Posts Tagged ‘Martha Karolyi’

Bridget Sloan: The new U.S. rock?

January 14, 2009

Bridget Sloan

Bridget Sloan

The aforementioned post from the Los Angeles Times’s Diane Pucin has this sentence regarding 2008 U.S. Olympian Bridget Sloan:

Headlining the women’s competition will be 16-year-old Olympic silver medalist Bridget Sloan. U.S. coaches hope she will be the cornerstone for the national team for the next four years, as Alicia Sacramone was for the 2008 Olympic team.

I wonder which U.S. coaches Pucin talked to who gave her that impression? Martha Karolyi? It’s nothing against Sloan, who did a wonderful job coping with the pressure of being relatively inexperienced and handling the U.S. Championships, Olympic Trials and selection camp, and leading off for the U.S. in team prelims on floor and finals on vault — but it would be nice to have the attribution.

The weeks in review

November 25, 2008

There should be a blog that keeps tabs on all the gymnastics blogs.

Tidbits of the week: Triple Full reports that 2006 World Champion Vanessa Ferrari is having a sort of identity crisis. Ongoing injuries have hindered her training, and she’s gained some weight. Nothing precipitates an identity crisis in gymnastics like the expansion of a couple inches of waistline. It seems doubtful that the feisty 2006 World Champion will be able to make a tremendously successful return to elite international competition.

Rick at Gymnastics Coaching reports that Georgia is once again on top of the yearly NCAA coaches poll, followed by perennial runner-up Utah. And that Bela Karolyi called accusers Trudi Kollar and fellow defector Geza Pozar “trash” for their accusations of Bela and Martha Karolyi’s abuse. Tactful. Very tactful.

Before becoming U.S. Team Coordinator, Martha Karolyi was the shadow behind Bela, who obviously prefers the spotlight. Rick calls for her to address the abuse allegations, as well. I kind of doubt she will. Or that USA Gymnastics will make her.

A flurry of competitions, including the Milan Grand Prix, Toyota Cup, Massila Cup, Asian Championships and DBT Cup have taken place in recent days. The rule of thumb has generally been that if you dominated during the Olympics, you dominated these competitions too. Stars include Cheng Fei, Jiang Yuyuan, He Kexin, Sandra Izbasa, Koko Tsurumi, Lauren Mitchell, Fabian Hambuchen, Maxim Deviatovskiy.

“Competing” against a weak field, U.S. gymnasts Samantha Shapiro, Corrie Lothrop and Olivia Courtney steamrolled everyone else at the Pan American Union Championships. Lothrop won vault, Shapiro bars and beam, and Courtney floor.

Revisiting Emilia Eberle’s gymnastics

November 21, 2008

She’s known for that awful floor routine — and now, for her accusations that Bela and Martha Karolyi physically abused her and others while she trained on the Romanian national team. What she isn’t so known for is her very clean work on beam and bars.

I wonder why not. Eberle’s work from the 1979 Chunichi Cup and 1980 Olympic Games is quite impressive. On beam she reminds me of a combination of Olga and Nadia, and her swing on bars and some of the neat moves is great. Her double pike off beam had to be one of the first performed. If she weren’t of the same era as Nadia, Nellie Kim and Natalia Shaposhnikova, perhaps she would have been better remembered.

Emilia Eberle, 1979 Chunichi Cup, Uneven Bars:

Emilia Eberle, 1979 Chunichi Cup, Beam:

The judges thought she was pretty good, too. Eberle won silver on bars at the 1980 Olympics.

By the 1980 Olympics, Eberle had mercifully been given a new floor routine. If the music sounds familiar, it’s because Mary Lou Retton used it in 1984.

Emilia Eberle, 1980 Olympics Event Finals, Floor Exercise:

Bela Karolyi announces Romanian Senate run

November 20, 2008
Bela Karolyi has announced plans to run for the Romanian Senate.

Bela Karolyi has announced plans to run for the Romanian Senate.

Yesterday a Sacramento news affiliate published an article quoting former Karolyi pupil Emilia Eberle (now Trudi Kollar) saying she was abused at the hands of Bela and Martha Karolyi as a member of the Romanian national team during the 1970s and early ’80s.

Her story was confirmed by choreographer Geza Pozar, a close friend of the Karolyis who defected with them in 1981.

There’s hardly time for people to begin calling for the Karolyis to come clean, acknowledge Kollar’s statements (Bela has refused to comment, and Martha’s in Argentina at the Pan Pacific Games, according to reader Nik) before The Houston Chronicle reports that Bela has decided to run for the Romanian Senate.

Does this mean he’ll relocate back to Romania? Nope.

Karolyi, 66, said he will be on the ballot in Romania’s Nov. 30 election to become a member of national Senate as a representative of Romanian citizens living in the Americas, Australia and Africa.

Karolyi, who has Romanian and U.S. citizenship, said he was approached to enter the race by the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania, or DAHR. The group’s Web site describes the DAHR, a member of Romania’s current governing coalition, as a political alliance organized to represent the interests of ethnic Hungarians living in Romania.

“I got a call about a month ago from the government saying, ‘Bela, we salute you. We have an offer,’” Karolyi said. “I said, ‘What is the offer? Does it involve hunting?’ They said, ‘It is much more serious than that. We would like you to run for a position in the Romanian Senate.’”

Karolyi said he initially turned down the offer but accepted after he was encouraged to do so by DAHR members in Romania and by supporters living in the United States.

He’ll be a shoo-in. Nadia Comaneci was reportedly approached about running for Romanian Parliament in 2007 last summer but apparently has not followed up.

Related: Eberle says Karolyi beat her; Pozar confirms
USAG: No complaints about the Karolyis
Nadia the politician?

Eberle says Karolyi beat her; Pozar confirms

November 19, 2008

Emilia Eberle as a young competitor. Eberles given name is Gertrud, which reflects her Hungarian roots. The Romanian Federation decided she would compete under her middle name, Emilia.

Emilia Eberle as a young competitor. Eberle's given name is Gertrud, which reflects her Hungarian roots. The Romanian Federation decided she would compete under her middle name, Emilia.

Oh, dear.

In an interview with a local news affiliate, 1970s Romanian national team member Emilia Eberle says that Bela and Martha Karolyi physically abused their gymnasts, describing hitting, cutting, scratching and an overall feeling of terror that permeated the Deva gym.

“In one word, I can say it was brutal,” she said.

Kollar said mistakes in training or competition brought physical pain — frequent beatings from Bela Karolyi.

“Nobody’s perfect, so obviously we did mistakes. And we, you know, just got smacked everywhere from Bela — on all our body parts. You know, he has huge hands and it hurts,” Kollar said. “I had blood coming out of my body. I had my ears — my skin ripped behind my ears. I had pus behind my ears, but, you know, nobody seemed to care.”

While awful, this is not exactly new information. Over the years, several Karolyi gymnasts have periodically accused the exuberant Romanian of abuse. What is new, however, is the source who confirms it: Geza Pozar, the choreographer who defected with the Karolyis in 1981 and continued to work with them. Eberle, who changed her name to Trudi Kollar, has worked in Pozar’s gym in Sacramento for the past 15 years, according to the article.

Pozar said Kollar’s story is absolutely true.

“I saw all the activities that went on. Of course I saw the beating and the abuse, you know, as Trudi told you,” Pozar said.

Pozar said Bela Karolyi was large and powerful, and that Kollar was a frequent target.

“Trudi was the most abused, I mean physically. And when he hit her on the back, you can see that big hand, you know, landing on her back. That is something you would never forget,” Pozar said.

Kollar, who is known primarily for having one of the ugliest floor routines ever choreographed (likely by Pozar, who was team choreographer; horrendous as it was, it tied for third with American Kathy Johnson’s stunning classical routine at the 1978 World Championships in Strasbourg, France) refused to discuss her training days in an earlier interview this summer.

Emilia Eberle, 1977 U.S. vs. Romania, Floor Exercise:

What bothers me about this story is that abuse like Eberle describes was probably not limited to Romanian gymnastics. Look at the ever-successful Soviets of the 80s, or the Chinese of today. How many of them are or were subjected to the same treatment?

Speaking of messed up, stuff is happening in Brazil that’s getting much-needed attention on Triple Full and at Gymnastics Coaching. Banned drugs, no less. Maybe that explains why Jade Barbosa looked so out of it in Beijing.

Martha: 2012 and possibly beyond

November 14, 2008

Martha Karolyi is planning to lead the U.S. women’s gymnastics team at least through 2012, Bela Karolyi said this week in an interview with ESPN.

Karolyi said Martha’s battery is fully charged, and she’s ready to lead the team at least through the 2012 Olympics. She’s 66. “Martha is amazing,” Karolyi said. “I don’t know where in the world she gets that energy and drive. She really amazes me. She’s very, very much into it, very much dedicated.” Penny said the Karolyis are in USA Gymnastics’ long-term plan, and he expects Martha to run the women’s program at least through 2012. “The program is working, and people are happy about it,” he said. “People want to keep it going.”

Not everybody feels this way. What do you think?

Where was Carly?

August 23, 2008
Reigning Olympic champ Carly Patterson wasnt in Beijing this summer.

Reigning Olympic champ Carly Patterson wasn't in Beijing this summer.

It was one of the many thoughts flitting through this blogger’s brain in the aftermath of Nastia Liukin’s golden all-around performance.

The Dallas Morning News apparently had the same question.

Someone obvious was missing Friday morning in Beijing as North Texan Nastia Liukin won the women’s gymnastics all-around Olympic gold medal: Carly Patterson.

Television cameras cut to Houston’s Mary Lou Retton, who in 1984 became the first American woman to win the all-around gold. There were shots of coaches, the ever-present Bela and Martha Karolyi, and several other Olympic luminaries.

But what about Patterson, the darling of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, whose megawatt smile and pepper-pot style captured American imaginations when she won America’s second all-around gold?

She watched the games from Louisiana, with family.

“I wanted to be there, for sure,” said Patterson, 20, who lives in Allen and is pursuing a singing career. “I don’t really know what happened. I wasn’t invited.”

Hmmm. On one hand, someone — USA Gymnastics or WOGA or even NBC or the FIG — could have seen to it that the reigning Olympic champion was invited to the big party in Beijing.

Then again, Patterson has expressed little desire to remain involved with the sport, at one point redoing her website and inviting readers to click a link to “read about her former gymnastics career.” (It has since been redone and gymnastics is a little more prominent.)

USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny’s comments indicate there may be some hurt feelings on both sides between the 2004 Champ and the U.S. governing body of the sport that made her famous.

Was it fair of Patterson to pout in print? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Regardless of how she seems to have moved on with her life (applaudable) she was the Olympic champion. What do you think?

Karolyi blame game

August 14, 2008

Alicia Sacramone is consoled by U.S. National Team Coordinator Martha Karolyi after a disappointing performance during the women's team final in Beijing Tuesday night.

Alicia Sacramone is consoled by U.S. National Team Coordinator Martha Karolyi after a disappointing performance during the women's team final in Beijing Tuesday night.

Again, we reiterate: Even if Alicia Sacramone had been perfect on balance beam and floor exercise in team finals, even if Chellsie Memmel could have the 0.2 back for her jam through to her dismount on bars, even if all the out of boundses hadn’t happened on floor, China still would have defeated the U.S. by slightly more than half a point.

There is the school of thought that says that if Sacramone hadn’t fallen on beam and the U.S. had trailed China by tenths, not points, going into the fourth rotation, the Chinese might have crumbled under the pressure, as many expected before the competition.

That’s a big maybe. So it seems a bit unfair of National Team Coordinator Martha Karolyi to blame Sacramone’s problems on Chinese officials after the understandably disappointing competition.

BEIJING (AFP) – USA Gymnastics played down suggestions from a team official Wednesday that stadium staff here distracted one of their athletes so much she went on to make mistakes that destroyed their hopes of an Olympic gold medal.

As the gymnast at the centre of the controversy, Alicia Sacramone, admitted nerves got the better of her in the women’s team final against China, USA Gymnastics distanced itself the from remarks made by Martha Karolyi, the team co-ordinator.

Karolyi said immediately after the US loss to China that officials at Beijing’s National Indoor Stadium disrupted Sacramone’s beam routine by delaying her performance for an extended period, breaking her concentration.

“First they called her name up, then they did not even put her name up even though the Chinese had finished … (it was) totally unusual holding,” she said.”She was mentally prepared and then she had a mental break, then after not doing the job, the beam, on the floor exercise her concentration was bothered.”

Long waits happen so often they seem somewhat customary. Sacramone shouldn’t blame herself for the team “loss.” Martha Karolyi shouldn’t either.

Bela Karolyi took a different tack, accusing the Chinese of cheating by putting underage athletes on their team.

Some people may be getting a little sick of this power couple and their excuses, their politics, regardless of the good they’ve done the country. Do they remind you of anyone else?

Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Bill and Hillary Clinton.

(via Gymnastics Coaching)

Those controversial Moceanu statements

July 24, 2008

A very young Dominique Moceanu.

Paul Hamm isn’t the only one saying controversial stuff as The Olympic Games approach.

In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, 1996 Olympic gold medalist Dominique Moceanu called for Bela and Martha Karolyi to be shown off the U.S. Team selection process.

Former U.S. Olympian Dominique Moceanu, who at 14 was part of the 1996 gold-medal team, said Tuesday night that USA Gymnastics team coordinator Martha Karolyi once grabbed her by the neck and slammed her face into a phone, and that former coach Bela Karolyi twice berated her about her weight in front of national teammates.

Moceanu, in a telephone interview with The Times, expanded on comments she made on an “HBO Real Sports” report that first aired Tuesday night in which she called for the Karolyis to be removed from their positions with the national team.


Sloan’s chances likely damaged

June 23, 2008

If there was one victim of the Olympic Trials, it was probably Bridget Sloan.

The third-place finisher on the uneven bars at the U.S. Championships had a fall on beam on night two, which apparently shattered her concentration on floor exercise, where she went out of bounds twice and put her hands down on her pike full-in.

Bridget Sloan, 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials Finals, Floor Exercise:

Not good. Then again, the injured-but-recovering Shayla Worley didn’t do so hot either, belly-flopping her Hindorff on uneven bars. Worley can at least play the injury card.

It wasn’t really a good night for anybody except the unflappable Shawn Johnson. Even Nastia Liukin wasn’t immune, going out of bounds on floor and royally messing up  her Pak salto on bars.

Nastia Liukin, 2008 Olympic Trials Finals, Uneven Bars:

If Sloan wants to be on the team, she needs to do about three things: 1. Stick her full-twisting double layout dismount on bars. Several times. Preferably right in front of Martha Karolyi. 2. Work the kinks out on with the full turn and punch front on beam. 3. Stand close to Samantha Peszek and/or Alicia Sacramone and see if a little self-confidence doesn’t rub off.