Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Mazeika’

Artemev’s Olympic dream comes true

August 7, 2008

Morgan Hamm on pommel horse at the 2007 U.S. Championships.

Morgan Hamm on pommel horse at the 2007 U.S. Championships.

New U.S. Men’s team: Bhavsar, Tan, Spring, Horton, Hagerty…and Artemev.

From International Gymnast Magazine:

Two-time Olympian Morgan Hamm withdrew from the Olympics in Beijing on Thursday because of an ankle injury, and has been replaced by alternate Sasha Artemev.

“I have been dealing with this for the last year and it has gotten worse here in Beijing,” Hamm said in a statement Thursday. “Right now I am unable to perform my tumbling skills at the level that I need to. This has an impact on my ability to contribute to the team’s goals and I believe by continuing I would be putting myself at further risk.”

During podium training on Wednesday in Beijing, Hamm’s ankle was clearly bothering him. He tumbled only one pass on floor exercise, a 2 1/2 twist, and fell on it. He watered down on vault as well, performing a double-twisting Tsukahara instead of his usual 2 1/2.

U.S. men’s head coach Kevin Mazeika said he needed to be able to see a full floor routine from Hamm during Thursday’s practice.

It’s a very sad ending to what began as a hugely promising comeback for the twins who literally did half the work in the 2004 Olympic team finals. Paul and Morgan’s comeback was supposed to herald the return of U.S. men’s gymnastics as a true international contender — at least for these Games.

It’s hard to know what to expect from the two they’ve been replaced by, except form errors (and thus lower B scores) from Bhavsar and inconsistency from Artemev — the most notable things about each one’s gymnastics, respectively.

This seems a slightly more advanced prototype of the team that finished a respectable fourth at the 2007 World Championships. It’s strength on rings is excellent thanks to Bhavsar and Tan, and Artemev, provided he hits his pommel horse routine in team prelims, has a good shot at moving to finals on that event.

Artemev, who once said in an interview that Paul Hamm’s return took the pressure off of people like him to be as “perfect”, is a brilliant gymast on nearly every event. His lines, form and artistry are truly Olympic-caliber. Even with a fall, he’ll carry in a better score on pommels than literally everyone else on this team.

Two withdrawals before anyone even salutes a judge in competition is a lot, and even with alternate David Durante still waiting in the wings, one wonders if it wouldn’t behoove the U.S. to fly another person out to Asia to train — just in case. David Sender, anyone?

Mazeika to coach Olympic team

February 10, 2008

USA Gymnastics has tapped 2004 Olympic team coach Kevin Mazeika to lead the men’s team in Beijing, the federation announced after a meeting this weekend in Las Vegas, where the 2008 Winter Cup is underway.

Mazeika, who coaches 2007 World Team member Sean Golden, 2001 World parallel bars champ Sean Townsend and 2004 Olympic alternate Raj Bhavsar at Houston Gymnastics Academy, led the U.S. men in 2004, when they sapped a 20-year dry spell by grabbing silver in the team competition.

But he’s come under fire from some in the gymnastics community, who claim he’s encouraged athletes to forgo accepting college scholarships.

Veteran Paul Hamm leads the standings at the Winter Cup with a healthy 92.8 after the first day of competition. Bhavsar, who many feel was jilted four years ago, is second with 89.0, one tenth ahead of 2006 U.S. Champion Sasha Artemev. 2007 U.S. champ David Durante and Stanford standout David Sender round out the top five.

Blaine Wilson, who is trying to make his fourth Olympic team, is currently eighth.

OSU men named academic national champions

November 7, 2007

They may not have won an NCAA team title since 2001, but the Ohio State Buckeyes are tops in the nation on their seventh event: College academics.

The Ohio State Buckeyes are the U.S.'s number one in academics.

Ohio State was named 2007 Academic Team National Championship by the College Gymnastics Association, Ohio State University’s student newspaper reported today.

“It’s been a mission since I came in as a freshman through now my senior year to make sure that’s our priority,” said Jimmy Wickham, a senior in exercise science who competes in all events and finished with a 3.795 grade-point average. “We are student-athletes. The student title comes first.”

The importance of using one’s gymnastics abilities to score a college scholarship has been highlighted recently by Team Gattaca, who have launched a campaign against U.S. men’s coach Kevin Mazeika for allegedly urging top U.S. gymnasts not to attend college in favor of training full time.

At the same time, the number of schools who recognize men’s gymnastics is shrinking, thanks to Title IX requirements and budget cuts. There are now only 17 institutions of higher ed in the U.S. that have Division I men’s gymnastics programs.

Last year, James Madison University in Virginia canned both its men’s and women’s gymnastics programs, joining a long list of schools that have been forced to do the same thing.

(Via Gymnastics Coaching)

‘The state of Men’s Gymnastics in the USA is the worst it’s ever been’: Team Gattaca takes a stand

November 2, 2007

2001 World parallel bars champion Sean Townsend, also a member of Team Chevron, was Team Gattaca's first big-name competitor.

Some in the gymnastics community are decrying USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny, 2007 World Team Coach Kevin Mazeika and the state of men’s gymnastics in the United States as a whole.

No, they’re not talking about the 2006 World Championships, where the U.S. men’s team finished in an alarming 13th place. What’s being discussed is a petition to “Stop Kevin Mazeika,” alleging that Mazeika encourages prospective Olympians to forgo college scholarships in favor of training full-time with him and accepting money from organizations that strip athletes of NCAA eligibility has been making the rounds of gymnastics messageboards.

Kevin Mazeika purposely advises these athletes to stay at his gym to train for a fairly tale of making the Olympic Team instead of having them go off to college on athletic scholarships to earn their degree and experience NCAA gymnastics. Kevin Mazeika understands that if he keeps the athletes at his gym, keeping them financially strapped and in need, he will get more sponsorship dollars from USAG along with maintaining control over his athletes.

The petition supposedly comes from Team Gattaca, a corporate-sponsored organization that gives money to top gymnasts whose training is affecting their ability to work and earn a living. The difference between Gattaca and Team Chevron, a similar organization, is that Chevron’s corporate sponsors give their money to USA Gymnastics, who funnels it to athletes it deems deserving. Gattaca, on the other hand, handpicks its athletes and cuts out the middleman.

Allegedly, USA Gymnastics doesn’t like that one bit. The petition accuses the organization of being prejudiced against Gattaca’s athletes when it comes time to hand out World and Olympic team placements.

Only two weeks after Team Gattaca signed a one year contract with Sean Townsend, Steve Penny made a face to face appointment with Manuel Galarza, founder of Team Gattaca…The meeting took place at the Team Gattaca office in Manhattan, NY in the spring of 2003 and was highlighted by a verbal threat made by Mr. Steve Penny, VP of USA Gymnastics at the time and current President of USAG. After trying to convince Mr. Manuel Galarza to direct the Team Gattaca funding to USAG it became clear to Mr. Penny that Manuel’s motive were to establish something more than just giving money to USAG. After it became clear to Mr. Penny that he could not convince Mr. Galarza to hand over funding directly to USAG Mr. Penny proceeded to threaten Mr. Galarza, his organization, and his athletes. Mr. Penny’s exact comment was “I can’t promise you that your guys will get the scores.”

Townsend, who trains with Mazeika in Houston, was left off the 2004 Olympic team despite placing third in the all-around at the 2004 Olympic Trials, while Mazeika went on to coach the squad in Athens.

It’s led some to question whether Townsend was overlooked because others were more capable of bringing in bigger scores in Athens or because he was a member of Team Gattaca. His all-around performance may have been solid, but Townsend was not in the top three on any single event except rings at the 2004 U.S. Championships, where he was fifth overall.

A brilliant Sean Townsend vault at a tri-meet with Russia and Ukraine, unspecified year:

It’s important to note that although a poster has signed up on International Gymnast Magazine’s messageboard identifying himself as Gattaca GM Manuel Galarza and verifying the already posted grievances against USA Gymnastics, the petition is nowhere to be found online and no statement has been posted on Team Gattaca’s website. Likewise, USA Gymnastics has not posted any statement on the matter.

In a slightly related problem, men who do want to compete in NCAA gymnastics are finding fewer and fewer programs to choose from. An article published today in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer details the efforts of men’s teams like the University of Washington’s, who have been technically eliminated due to budget cuts and have to turn to other sources of funding in order to keep competing and awarding scholarships.

In 2001, there were 24 U.S. colleges and universities that had men’s gymnastics programs. This year there will be 17, the result of Title IX compliance and budget cuts. Expensive equipment and strong but relatively small fan bases mean NCAA gymnastics is not financially lucrative. In 2007, James Madison University in Virginia cut its men’s team, joining a long list that includes UCLA, Michigan and Brigham Young.