Posts Tagged ‘Yuri van Gelder’

A second chance at an Olympic berth

October 6, 2008

In gymnastics, the 2007 World Championships served as the only way to qualify for the 2008 Olympics short of receiving a wild card. That was unfair to injured athletes.

Then there was the idea that to qualify as an inidvidual you had to win a gold medal on your speciality (or any event, whether it was your specialty or not) in event finals.

Numerous athletes who well deserved a trip to Beijing got shorted because of these rules. Among them: Aljaz Pagan, Jeffrey Wammes, Krisztian Berki, Philippe Rizzo, Yuri van Gelder and Vlasios Maras. And those are just a few.

At least the FIG is thinking about trying to correct its errors.

STUTTGART, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) — For the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the gymnastics governing body (FIG) will adopt a second qualifying event in additional to the current world championships to qualify gymnasts, FIG said here on Monday.

The second qualification for Olympics is required by the International Olympic Committee in order to provide a second opportunity for athletes who, for reasons such as injury, were unable to participate in the only qualifying competition — the world championships.

This second opportunity is one of the issues up for debate by the FIG executives, who will deliver its conclusions to the Council, the entity with the authority to approve changes to the technical regulations.

Hey FIG — while you’re at it, you should get rid of the age limit that partially tainted the women’s competition in Beijing. Or move it back to 14.

Canadian women name Olympians

June 10, 2008

Nansy DamianovaIn the midst of the media frenzy that was the U.S. women’s championships, the Canadians quietly held their own Nationals and named Nansy Damianova and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs as the two who would wear the Maple Leaf in Beijing.

Left out is 2007 Canadian champion Kristina Vaculik, a waif-like 16-year-old who is excellent on bars and beam but a bit weak on vault and floor.

Hopfner-Hibbs, who had been concentrating on her specialties (bars and beam) made an impressive return to the all-around to win the Canadian title over Vaculik and young Charlotte Mackie. Young Peng-Peng Lee was also impressive, winning the senior beam and floor titles.

Adam Wong won the Canadian men’s title, although his victory was somewhat overshadowed by the continuing saga of Kyle Shewfelt, who made a media splash even though he didn’t compete.

Most were betting that the two to go would be Hopfner-Hibbs, the only Canadian woman in about two decades to have won a World medal (bronze, balance beam, 2006), and Vaculik, who was sent to the Olympic venue for the Good Luck Beijing International Invitational in December.

Damianova has been viewed as no. 3 to Vaculik and Hopfner-Hibbs in international exposure, media coverage and probably readiness — everything but the complicated, confusing system Gymnastics Canada Gymnastique installed to choose its Olympians. A month ago, Damianova led the qualifying, having racked up 32 points to Hopfer-Hibbs’ 30 and Vaculik’s 19.

Vaculik has become the first of what will undoubtedly be several women who are Olympic-caliber but will not be granted an berth to the Games because their countries didn’t qualify a full team or because the wildcard process screwed them over didn’t work out for them.

We already know who many of these people are on the men’s side: Krisztian Berki, Vlasios Maras, Yuri van Gelder, Jeffrey Wammes, Philippe Rizzo, Yernar Yurimbetov and others (for full list, see Gymnastics Coaching.)

Damianova was impressive at the 2008 Pacific Rim Championships in April.

Nansy Damianova, 2008 Pacific Rim Championships, Floor Exercise:

Russian men on top at European Championships

May 9, 2008

Nikolai KryukovThe usual suspects — including Fabian Hambuchen, Yuri van Gelder and Nikolai Kryukov — all did very well during team qualifications at the Men’s European Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland, International Gymnast Magazine reports.

Going into team finals, the picture looks like this:

1. Russia 273.175
2. Germany 268.000
3. Ukraine 267.025
4. Romania 266.275
5. Belarus 265.150
6. Switzerland 264.800
7. France 263.300
8. Italy 262.950

Russia seems likely to win the team title, but some good races are shaping up for event finals, particularly on rings, where would-be Olympic rings contender van Gelder will go up against Jordan Jovtchev. 2007 World high bar champion Hambuchen will go up against 2001 World high bar champion Vlasios Maras of Greece in event finals as well.

Some surprises though: Veteran among veterans Kryukov is leading on parallel bars and pommel horse. I think of Kryukov as the veteran among veterans not because he’s 28, but more because he’s been around since 1996, when at 16 he was the youngest member of the gold-medal winning Russian team in Atlanta.

The best male gymnasts of the past 10 years — Li Xiaoshaung, Alexei Nemov, Ivan Ivankov, Alexei Bondarenko, Li Xiaopeng, Yang Wei, Yevgeny Podgorny, Rustam Sharipov, Marian Dragulescu, Hiroyuki Tomita, Paul Hamm — Kryukov’s gone up against all of them. And the 1999 World Champion has proven that he’s among the best too.

In other news, the Russians appear to have let Maxim Devyatovsky back onto the team after his stint of bad behavior at the 2007 World Championships.

Devyatovsky competed all six events and was the top individual, though the all-around will not be contested in Lausanne.

Great routines you won’t see in Beijing and one you might

April 13, 2008

Krisztian Berki, 2007 World Championships Event Finals, Pommel Horse:

Yuri van Gelder, 2008 Doha World Cup Event Finals, Rings:

Both topped the standings on their specialties at the Cottbus Cup.

A great routine we’ll probably see something like in Beijing, although nothing’s a given:

Li Xiaopeng, 2006 DTB Cup, Parallel Bars:

This routine, one of the last he performed in competition before his injury, had a 6.9 A score and received a 16.3. Apparently he’s only gotten better — his Cottbus routine carried a 7.2 A-score and earned a 16.5.

Li’s longevity on what is unquestionably the deepest men’s gymnastics team in the world is unparalled and not often recognized. He’s 27, and made his debut at the 1997 World Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland by winning a bronze on floor and a silver on parallel bars. He went on to become the 2000 Olympic champion.

His record-setting p-bars set will no doubt help his Olympic cause. The Xinhua News Agency reports that he’s already got another assignment:

Former Olympic champion Liao Xiaopeng will lead the Chinese team to take part in the gymnastic World Cup to be held in this port city on May 14-15.

Li, 27, who won two gold medals in the men’s parallel bars and team events in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, has been out of practice since 2006 due to injuries and has not competed in international competitions. But he has regained his form and fitness, said Huang Yubin, head coach of the Chinese national gymnastics team.

Paul HammTwo years out of competition and making an impressive comeback, eh? Sound like anyone else we know?

(via Gymnastics Coaching)

Wild card selections: Pegan, Garcia to stay at home

March 15, 2008

I want inform you that today (few minutes ago) died one of basic Olympic rule – LET THE BEST SPORTSMAN WIN

On our National TV (TV Slovenia) we got the information that the last wild card for Olympics games (for artistic gymnastics) goes to one citizen of Yemen.

I dont know what thinking about this decision [Aljaz] Pegan, Yuri van Gelder, [Krisztian] Berki and other great gymnasts all over the world and other normal people…

And what do you think? Is that fair?

No Olympics for Aljaz Pegan.So wrote webmaster of, a website dedicated to Slovenian veteran Aljaz Pegan, a two-time world high bar champion who has competed at every world championships since 1989 but has never been to an Olympic Games.

Pegan, second on high bar at the 2007 World Championships, was said to be in the thick of the wildcard race for an Olympic berth. His closest rival was likely Dutch strongman Yuri van Gelder, who won silver on his specialty, rings, in Stuttgart.

It was reported on message boards earlier today that the much-anticipated wild card slots went to Nashwan Al-Hazari from Yemen for men’s artistic gymnastics, and Thuong Do Thi Ngan from Vietnam for women. Both are respectable elite gymnasts, but neither have made much of an impact on the world scene.

International Gymnast Magazine ran an interview with Pagan a few months ago, and IG editor Dwight Normile posted a perspective on why the women’s wildcard should go to Mexico’s Elsa Garcia last week.

So, to repeat the webmaster’s words, is it fair? And what do you think?

Men’s artistic gymnastics: 12 to watch in ’08

January 16, 2008

Brazil's Diego Hypolito

For men’s gymnastics, the 2008 Olympic Games seem to loom as a competition where old scores are literally to be settled. The judging scandals that plauged the men’s events in Athens in 2004 — in the all-around, on high bar, parallel bars and still rings — seem to have kept many athletes in the gym and training for redemption in Beijing. (more…)