Posts Tagged ‘Mattie Larson’

Hong dissatisfied with GAGE

October 29, 2008
Former GAGE gymnast Ivana Hong came oh-so-close to her Olympic dream.

Former GAGE gymnast Ivana Hong came oh-so-close to her Olympic dream.

Ivana Hong is not happy with her GAGE experience.

Hong, who left Al and Armine Fong and apparently showed up at the recent Karolyi camp without either coach or gym, and her family gave interviews to NBC Action News, disclosing that Hong had fractured her right ankle before the Olympic Trials, and Fong, apparently reverting to his less compassionate days, told her to ignore it.

“They kept telling me that nothing was wrong with my foot,” Ivana said. “I knew what was wrong with it, but I wasn’t going to be like ‘I have a fracture in my foot and I’m not gonna train.’”

Fong discouraged Ivana from seeking medical treatment. Against his wishes, Ivana’s mother took her to a doctor, who confirmed she had a fractured ankle.

With the Olympics looming, Ivana thought she had no choice but to trudge on.

Anne Phillips, who linked to this article on Gymnastike, prefaced it by noting “it’s a little dramatic”. It is, a bit — the article’s refernce to Joan Ryan’s book Little Girls in Pretty Boxes, which recounts both the stories of Fong’s ill-fated gymnasts Julissa Gomez and Christy Henrich, is what Ivana’s story is made to sound like here. But the book was published 13 years ago and, many would argue, represents a different era in American gymnastics.

Or does it? Hong’s claims that Fong turned away from her are disturbing. Fong didn’t exactly sound enthusiastic about their Olympic Trials preparations either. Instead of denying that he gave up on her, Fong contends Hong “flat-out quit.”

Whether it was her foot injury or not, many may say that Hong, a designated Olympic alternate, was simply the seventh-best gymnast in the U.S. this summer. Despite her third-place finish at the 2007 Pan-American Games, Hong’s routines weren’t received with much enthusiasm at the 2007 World Championships. Even in top form, she was still a bubble gymnast, and it can be argued that there was no place for her in the top five on any event.

While they may regret it, no one forced the Hong family to move from California, especially as there are many top-flight gyms in the state (All-Olympia, home to Mattie Larson and Samantha Shapiro, springs immediately to mind.) Still, if Ivana wasn’t given the training they were promised (and paid for) they certainly should complain.

The article does state that Hong plans to continue toward 2012.

Related: Al Fong’s second chance

The exciting Mattie Larson

June 23, 2008

Mattie Larson wowed everybody with this wonderful floor exercise at the Olympic Trials. Is it enough to get her named to the team, in some capacity? (In my book, being an alternate counts as a capacity.)

She’s a good interview, too. Have a look at this gymnast.com coverage:

Best quotes: “When I was four, I rememebr watching the 96 Olympics and just like thinking, ‘Oh, I can do everything they can do, I’m just going to go to a gym and try it.’ And then of course, it didn’t work…” She also said she’s planning to try for 2012, and that she’s got more to give.

“I don’t feel like people have seen my best best.”

Larson trains at All-Olympia in Los Angeles alongside junior Samantha Shapiro, also noted for her exceptional form and beauty. Could All-Olympia be the next GAGE? We’ll see in 2009.

U.S. Olympians: Johnson, Liukin

June 23, 2008

To almost nobody’s surprise, Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin went 1-2 at the just-concluded U.S. Olympic Trials, securing spots on the team pending a show of readiness at the selection camp later this month.

Also invited to the selection camp: the rebounding with a vengance Chellsie Memmel, Samantha Peszek, Ivana Hong, Bridget Sloan, Shayla Worley, Jana Bieger, Mattie Larson, Chelsea Davis, Corrie Lothrop and Alicia Sacramone.

The way I think it will go down: Memmel, Peszek and Sacramone, pending injury and an absolute meltdown, as gymnastics analyists call them, should make the team. And those are the only five who will be used in event finals — Johnson, Sacramone and Peszek on vault, Liukin, Memmel and (probably) Johnson on bars, Liukin, Johnson and Memmel/Sacramone or possibly Peszek on beam and Johnson, Sacramone and likely Peszek on floor.

The sixth gymnast’s Olympic Games will consist of team prelims.

Who should that leadoff be? Ivana Hong makes a pretty good case for herself. Her B scores are higher than Jana Bieger’s. And she’s not rebounding from injury the way Sloan and Worley are.

Those four will likely make up the last team member and the three alternates.

The one question mark in all of this is 16-year-old Mattie Larson, a new senior who should be favored for very good things in 2009. Larson has the difficulty on vault and the polish and presence on floor to be an alternate — at least. She doesn’t have the international exposure.

Will she be an alternate?

The other six…

June 10, 2008

Mattie LarsonEveryone who watched the U.S. Championships last weekend saw Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin and Chellsie Memmel dominate the competition. Samantha Peszek was fourth, Ivana Hong fifth, and Jana Bieger sixth.

Shayla Worley was out. Alicia Sacramone competed her three good events.

Sixteen-year-old Mattie Larson got some camera time. So did Bridget Sloan.

Here’s how the other half fared:

7. Mattie Larson 118.850
8. Corrie Lothrop 117.650
9. Randy Stageberg 116.000
10. Mackenzie Caquatto 114.850
11. Olivia Courtney 114.100
12. Alaina Johnson 113.000
13. Christa Tanella 112.800
14. Britney Ranzy 112.750
15. Ashley Stott 111.850
16. Katelyn Mohr 111.450
17. Kimberly Jacob 110.850  

A few, like Stageberg, are heading off to college, etc. But watch them. They’ll be on your NCAA teams. They’ll be the ones competing for spots on the 2009 World team.

Christa Tanella, 2008 U.S. Classic All-Around, Floor Exercise:

International Gymnast Magazine editor Dwight Normile posted his thoughts on the men’s and women’s U.S. Championships on the magazine’s website. The most interesting point, I thought, was that Liukin bested Johnson during day two of the competition.

Dead heat: Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin could go 1-2 or 2-1 at the Olympics. Their A Scores across four events on Day 2 were 26.20 (Johnson) and 26.10 (Liukin). Liukin actually beat Johnson on the second day, 64.20-64.05, but her fall and out-of-bounds deduction in prelims proved to be the difference in the end. If both hit in Beijing, I honestly couldn’t pick a winner — they’re that close.

Normile’s picks for the women’s Olympic team: Johnson, Liukin, Memmel, Sacramone, Peszek and…either Worley, Sloan, Ivana Hong or Jana Bieger. Dead right. Men: Paul Hamm, Kevin Tan, and, um…

Young Americans shine at 2007 Junior Pan American Games

November 27, 2007

Hard to believe Shawn Johnson and Samantha Peszek were competing at last fall’s junior Pan American Games.

Samantha Peszek, 2006 Junior Pan American Games, Floor Exercise:

It just goes to show what can happen in a year.

And it makes one wonder if one or more of the fantastic four the U.S. women sent to this year’s Pan American Games — Jordyn Wieber, Olivia Courtney, Mattie Larson and Chelsea Davis — could be in store for a similar fate.

The fact that they’re still competing as juniors about six months before the Olympic Trials (though Courtney, Davis and Larson are all age-eligible for Beijing) makes me think it would be nearly impossible for them to make enough of a first year splash on the senior circuit within the next six months to be chosen for the team.

Nonetheless, all are impressive, and are likely to be among the frontrunners in 2009. Particularly Wieber, who at age 12 is throwing almost all the difficulty of a Johnson.