Posts Tagged ‘Samantha Shapiro’

12 to watch in 2009 — a recap

January 8, 2009

Japans Kohei Uchimura is likely to be very successful in 2009.

Japan's Kohei Uchimura is likely to be very successful in 2009.

Posted late last month and early into this one, here are my picks for who will make waves in 2009:

    Sabrina Gill, Canada
    Kohei Uchimura, Japan
    Jeffery Wammes and Epke Zonderland, Netherlands
    Viktoria Komova, Russia
    Fabian Hambuchen, Germany
    Larissa Iordache, Romania
    Samantha Shapiro and Jordyn Wieber, USA
    Alexy Bilozerchev, USA
    Tatiana Nabieva, Russia
    Nathan Gafuik, Canada
    Cui Jie, China
    Benoit Caranobe, France

Honorable mentions: Peng-Peng Lee and Charlotte Mackie, Canada; Becky Downie, Great Britain; Koko Tsurumi, Japan; Paola Galente, Italy, Ksenia Semyonova, Aliya Mustafina and Nailia Mustafina,  Russia; Sergei Khorokhordin, Russia; Alexander Vorobyov, Ukraine; Stephen Legendre, USA; Thomas Bouhail, France; Zou Kai, China; Louis Smith, Great Britain. Good luck to all in 2009.

12 days of up and coming gymnasts, day seven

December 29, 2008
The elegant Samantha Shapiro, 15, is a rising star for the U.S.

The elegant Samantha Shapiro, 15, is a rising star for the U.S.

Jordyn Wieber and Samantha Shapiro, USA: Expect the dynamic Wieber and the elegant Shapiro to carry out this quad’s version of the Nastia and Shawn Show — that is, if Nastia and Shawn don’t return themselves.

Thirteen-year-old Wieber, the reigning junior national champion, was victorious at the Top Gym meet in Belgium earlier this month, while Shapiro competed alongside Nastia Liukin, Rebecca Bross and Darling Hill at the Pacifiic Rim Championships in the spring. There she dazzled everybody with her excellent form and sunny disposition (she didn’t stop smiling even when her floor exercise music stopped playing after her first pass.)

Look out for U.S. Junior Champ Jordyn Wieber this quad.

Look out for U.S. Junior Champ Jordyn Wieber this quad.

Shapiro, 15, also won bars and beam at the individual-events-only Pan American Union Championships in Rio against a strong field of, well, other Americans, including Olivia Courtney and Corrie Lothrop.

Wieber’s got the big skills (easy DTY, reportedly training an Amanar, effortless standing full on beam, double pike off), Shapiro’s got the elegance and grace (check out her uber-elegant mount). Like Nastia and Shawn, they’re two years apart. Hopefully they’re friends too — they’re going to be seeing a lot of each other in the next few years.

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.

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

Recent U.S. camp report on L.A. Times

October 22, 2008

Recent U.S. training camp rumors confirmed by Diane Pucin, who covers gymnastics for the L.A. Times:

The assignments that USA Gymnastics announced for upcoming international competitions give some indication as to who is starting to be groomed for 2012 teams in London.

For example Glen Ishino of Santa Ana and Danell Leyva of Miami are being sent to the Pan American Gymnastics Union Individual Event Championships in Rosario, Argentina, Nov. 19-24.

Ishino won the 2008 junior all-around title and is considered a potential star for future U.S. men’s teams. Ishino is a freshman at California. Leyva is young enough to have been on the 14- to 15-year-old national team this year, but good enough to have finished eighth on the high bar at senior nationals

That’s just the beginning. Jana Bieger is apparently sticking around for now, as is Ivana Hong, despite showing at the recent Karolyi camp no longer affiliated with Al Fong and GAGE.

Word is Hong, who lived in California before moving to Missouri to train with the Fongs in 2004, may be heading to All Olympia, where Mattie Larson and Samantha Shapiro train. Seems like it would be a good fit for Hong, who like Larson and Shapiro is known for her artistry.

A question for the ages

August 5, 2008

Samantha Shapiro, Jordyn Wieber, Rebecca Bross. The big three of the U.S. Junior team are poised to do great things in 2009 — or 2011, when Wieber, the current junior national champion, comes of senior age.

Some commenters on this blog have noted that they enjoy seeing “mature” gymnastics. Many fans lament that a bunch of cool tricks without artistry does not make a good routine.

So here’s the question: If there were no age limit, who would make up the U.S. women’s team?

(Note: This doesn’t seem to affect the men. Paul and Morgan Hamm, 17 in Beijing, were practically infants. Dmitri Bilozertchev, 16 at the 1983 World Championships, was all of 20 when he made his amazing comeback in 1987. The fact is that male gymnasts usually peak in their 20s because they don’t have the power necessary to do big skills at age 13.)

Come to think of it…

August 4, 2008

Chinas Yang Yilin is the latest to be suspected of being underage.

China's Yang Yilin is the latest to be suspected of being underage.


This doesn’t really seem like the face of a 16-year-old, either.

Despite the International Olympic Committee’s decision not to pursue whether half of the Chinese women’s team is underage, the news media seems reluctant to let it go. And hey, Yang Yilin does have a very, very youthful face.

Whether Yang really is 16, or 15, or 14, or whatever, she hangs with the best in the world. She should compete. So should He Kexin. So should Samantha Shapiro and Charlotte Mackie and Aliya Mustafina. Shame on China for breaking the rule — if they are — and shame on the FIG for making a rule that is so easy to break.

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.

Pacific Rim redux

April 13, 2008

Al TrautwigThanks NBC, for broadcasting the women’s team competiton (and three half-performances from Paul Hamm.)

Many gymnastics fans don’t agree with everything NBC commentators say, particularly color commentator Al Trautwig, a basketball/hockey expert who often comes off as a buffoon in his attempts to translate the sport for the couch-potato watching public.

But they do slip interesting tidbits into their talk when not reminding viewers that the balance beam is only four inches wide (which, to their credit, I don’t believe they did in this broadcast.)

(more…)

Bross leads junior women after day one

August 17, 2007

If the first day of competition was any indication of the future of U.S. gymnastics, Rebecca Bross and Samantha Shapiro will be playing a big role in it.

Rebecca Bross leads the junior competition at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in San Jose, Calif.

Bross, 14, who trains at the same gym as two-time National champion Nastia Liukin, totaled a 58.95 during this afternoon’s preliminary round, putting her just 0.05 ahead of Shapiro, whose beautiful lines and toepoint are already setting her apart from the rest of the pack.

Despite falling on her Tkatchev on the uneven bars and a mildly shaky beam routine, Bross was clearly the cream of the competition. Her recent international experience at the Pan American Games has obviously helped immensely, and she’s bound to only get better.

Third after day one is Jordyn Wieber with a 58.5, who at just 12 years old is already a star in the making. Don’t let the cuteness fool you: This girl has moves some elite gymnasts train for 15 years and aren’t able to do.

Theirs will hopefully develop into a healthy rivalry as they get older. But make no mistake: The next great American gymnasts are in this bunch.