Theme of the week: National championships. Such as…
Colombian Nationals: Veterans Jessica Gil (who trains at Universal Gymnastics in Miami) and Jorge Hugo Giraldo won the senior titles at the Colombian Championships.
Spanish Nationals: Ana Maria Izuerta and Beatrice Cuesta tied for the all-around title at the Spanish Cup in Madrid. Both gymnasts also picked up a national title in event finals — Izuerta on beam and Cuesta on floor. Standout Claudia Menedez won vault, and Youth Olympic Games competitor Maria Vargas was the gold medalist on bars.
Mexican Nationals: Yessenia Estrada and Daniel Corral won the all-around titles at the championships in Merida.
British Team Championships: Team Liverpool, featuring the talents of Beth Tweddle, Hannah Whelan and Jennifer Pinches captured the British women’s team title over Cardiff Central (led by junior Angel Romaeo) and Heathrow (with Danusia Francis). Whelan easily won the all-around and beam, Tweddle bars and floor, and Niamh Rippon vault.
Ecuadorian Nationals: Claudia Parra and Boris Merchan were crowned the top gymnasts in Ecuador. (All information from the excellent All Around Gymnastics News on Facebook)
Italian Nationals: Vanessa Ferrari and Enrico Pozzo each captured their fifth consecutive national titles in Meda. Ferrari bested upstart Carlotta Ferlito and Francesca de Agostini in the all-around, and added an event title on uneven bars, while Ferlito won beam and floor and comebacker Francesca Benolli was the strongest gymnast on vault. The men’s event finals were dominated by specialists, including Pozzo (floor and high bar), Alberto Busnari (pommel horse), Matteo Morandi (rings), Youth Olympic Games p-bars bronze medalist Ludovico Edalli (parallel bars, of course). Marco Lodadio won vault. (International Gymnast Magazine)
Canadian Nationals: Madeline Gardiner and Jackson Payne each captured their first senior Canadian all-around title this week in Charlottetown, setting the stage for the World Championships, where it is critical that Canada do well in order to qualify a team to the 2012 Olympic Games. Juniors Victoria Moors and up-and-comer Matthieu Csukassy each won their first national titles as well, while Novice Shallon Olsen continued to shine in her division. (Gymnastics Examiner with complete results on Gym Score Depot)
King Kohei relieved Worlds to stay in Japan: The two-time World champion confesses that he finds European equipment a bit “unwieldy.” Not that that has kept him from winning titles so far… (Reuters)
And yes, the Russians will be there: Yahoo Eurosport quashes its own rumor that the Russian team might not attend the 2011 Worlds because Moscow doesn’t get to host it after all. Yes, the Russians will be there, and they’ll probably be kind of mad. (UK Eurosport)
Best Belgians: Belgian standouts Aagje Vanwalleghem, 2008 Olympian Gaelle Mys, Simeon Volkaert, Donna-Donny Truyens and Jimmy Verbaeys each won at least one event at the 2011 Gymfinales event this past weekend in Ghent. The Belgians should be gearing up for what will be a big couple of years for them — they have a successful women’s coach in Yves Kieffer, several junior standouts and the European or World Championships in their backyards in 2012 and 2013. (Belgian Gymnastics Federation)
Romanians burn up Brno: The Romanian duo of Raluca Haidu and Critsian Bataga won the Brno Grand Prix over the Czech/Swiss team of Jana Sikulova and Mark Ramseier and Czechs Kristyna Palesova and Martin Konecny. (The All Around Gymnastics News on Facebook)
Who wants to host the 2014 Worlds?: Well, Youth Olympic Games city Nanning, China, does. But apparently the FIG does not. Despite that Nanning was the only city to bid for the championships, the FIG is keeping the worlds location “open” for the moment. (International Gymnast Magazine)
Ashish Kumar injured: The Indian standout, hoping to qualify for the 2012 Olympics, is dealing with a new setback: a tendon tweak in his right elbow. The injury’s impact could be reduced with the help of a physiotherapist, but unfortunately, one is not available to the Indian gymnastics team. So Kumar waits. (Times of India)
Jessica Lopez’s journey: An article recounting the Venezuelan’s unexpected qualification to the 2008 Olympics to her ever-stronger all-around performances as she marches toward London. (Denver Post)
Jackson Payne profile: The new Canadian National Champion has a plan to take him through 2012. (Edmonton Journal)
Anna Dementyeva interview: The new European champion assures reporters that she’s ready for the responsibility of being Russia’s no. 1 while Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova are out of commission. (Sport Gym Rus)
A new skill from Sasaki and Mikulak: Brazilian standout Sergio Sasaki and U.S. junior champion Sam Mikulak are working on the same skill on parallel bars — a front straddle somie caught on the hands with the body swinging. Sasaki is hoping to have the skill named for him at the 2011 World Championships. (O Globo)
Speaking of the World Championships…: National Team Coordinator Kevin Mazeika has been tapped to lead the U.S. men’s team in Tokyo. (USA Gymnastics)
Make It or Break It to find out if it makes it: …for another season, that is. According to a recent interview with Ayla Kell, who plays the uberfocused Payson Keeler, the cast will find out soon if ABC Family has picked up the show for another season. (Celebuzz)
Cal star sweeps Philippine Nationals: Cal’s Jean Monteclaro won everything up for grabs at the Philippine National Games last week. Although his twin brother Christian, who also competes for Cal, did not compete due to a sprained ankle, both twins are expected to make up part of the team competing at the upcoming Southeast Asian Games. (Philippine Star)
New skills and challenges for CJ Maestas: The new U.S. rings standout recaps his time at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and talks about new skills and new challenges for him as he heads to the University of Illinois in the fall. (Gymnastike)
A Svetlana Khorkina retrospective: A Russian journalist recounts growing up with the Queen. (Sport Gym Rus)
Gymnast or movie star?: A fun photo piece from GymNiceTic. (GymNiceTic)
Meet MaKenna Merrell: The 13-year-old level 10 from Utah (whose sister Mickell is a senior on the BYU team) is 13, and already capturing attention. After a strong performance at the 2011 J.O. Nationals, MaKenna hopes to go elite. (Salt Lake Tribune)
From NCAA gymnast to prospective Olympic bobsledder: Former Auburn University walk-on Megan Hill only competed for Auburn once, but she’s now a U.S. National team member in her new sport. (WRBL.com)
From walk-on to team captain: Penn State pays tribute to stalwart Danielle Hover, who chose to walk on to the Nittany Lions squad rather than accept a scholarship at Towson. It wasn’t easy, but Hover doesn’t regret a minute. (Buffalo News)
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