It has been a busy time in the Gymnastics world, with the Olympic Test Event making it clearer who we will see round out the field this Summer in Rio and a multitude of promotional work being done by Gymnasts across the globe in the lead up to the all important Olympic Games. Here’s a flavour of what has been happening off the competition floor in the gymnastics world this week.
1. We reached the 100 days till Rio milestone:
Yes, that’s right, during the week, on April 27th to be exact it was just 100 days until the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will get underway. Hard to believe we are at this point in the year but the tweets from gymnasts, coaches and many others across the globe made the excitement kick in and the reality hit home that the Olympics are just around the corner. Yes, the event that athletes train “their whole entire life for” (McKayla Maroney, 2012) is almost here and we saw, among other things, Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas samba in Times Square to mark the occasion and British Gymnastics along with the British Olympic Committee unveil the British Olympic attire to mark the occasion.
2. The Romanian Gymnastics Federation held a press conference:
Ah yes! Finally the federation speaks. After failing to qualify a team to the Olympic Games and breaking the astonishing medal streak which saw them grab a team medal at every Olympic Games since 1976, many wanted to hear what the federation had to say about the issue. Our prayers were answered on Tuesday when the Romanian Gymnastics Federation held a press conference. At the press conference it was announced that the individual non-nominative spot that Romania holds for the Rio Olympics will either go to 3 time Olympic Champion, Catalina Ponor or Olympic medalist and 4 time World medalist, Larisa Iordache. Both will be evaluated on competitions in the lead up to the Games. One of these competitions being the upcoming European Championships in Bern, Switzerland which will be held from June 1st through June 5th 2016. It is personally no surprise that Iordache is being considered for the spot. Whilst missing the Test Event due to injury, Iordache announced via Twitter this week that she is now back training and at full health, Iordache is obviously the strongest member of the Romanian team. I am surprised however to see Ponor being considered. Whilst obviously always a force to be reckoned, it was my understanding that her goal was the Olympics and once Romania didn’t qualify I thought she would throw in the towel. Obviously not! Whilst briefly considering retirement (AGAIN!) following the Test Event, Ponor, ever the fighter ultimately decided to continue to train and possibly make the European Championships team, where the president of the federation, Adrian Stoica believes a team at full strength (i.e with a healthy Iordache) could medal and even possibly make it to her 3rd Olympic Games. Aside from who will get the individual spot at the Games and the teams prospects at the European Championships in June, it seems the fate of the programme was not addressed. Many, following the Test Event cried out for change however, as of yet it seems the federation have not considered a change in leadership, or at least have not told us about it. For more information on the press conference, check out Lauren Hopkins’ article on The Gymternet: https://thegymter.net/2016/04/26/ponor-and-iordache-will-battle-for-rio/
Larisa Iordache announces she is back training:
3. Andreea Iridon retires:
More of the fallout from the Romanian teams failure to qualify. Andreea Iridon, who became a senior last year and competed at the 2015 European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan, earning a silver and bronze medal has decided to retire following her teams failure to qualify. Iridon who was not a member of the team in Rio has had quite a rough senior career as of late and has decided to end it. It is sad but with a seemingly bleak future in store for Romanian Gymnastics and without the prospects of becoming an Olympian this year, it is easy to see how the motivation has waned and ultimately led to retirement. We wish Andreea all the best in the future.
4. Tokyo 2020 Olympic logo announced:
Just as we try to prepare for the 2016 Olympics and think phew! we’re almost there, we realise that somewhere in the world, the Rio Olympics are old news and the 2020 Olympic in Tokyo are where its at. SCARY! To think that these are the Olympics that little Jordan Chiles and Emma Malabuyo are eligible for seems insane. But alas, they are now just 4 years away! Say it ain’t so!
5. Russian team for European Championships announced:
With the Olympics drawing ever closer, every competition counts and every chance to compete is important. One of the most important competitions on the calendar for gymnasts in Europe are the 2016 European Championships in Bern, Switzerland. The ultimate preparation competition for the European gymnasts, allowing them to test their routines before heading to Rio or in Russia’s case, prove themselves on a big stage and help their case to earn an Olympic berth. It was already announced, following the Russian Championships, earlier in April that the team would be made up of Angelina Melnikova (no surprise there considering her huge scores at those Championships), Ksenia Afanaseyva, Aliya Mustafina and Maria Paseka, with one more spot to be decided. It was announced this week that thats final spot will go to 2015 World Uneven Bars Champion, Daria Spiridonova with Ms.Seda Tutkhalyan named as the alternate. Viktoria Komova is still recovering from injury.
6. Claudia Cummins injured:
Named earlier in April as one of the gymnasts that will compete as a continental representative for Africa at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Cummins finished strongly at the 2016 African Championships in March, earning silver medals with the South African team, in the All Around, on VT, on UB and earning bronze medals on BB and FX. Cummins was due to compete at the Osijek World Challenge Cup in Osijek, Croatia this weekend however it was announced by the South African Gymnastics Federation that she will not compete due to injury.
7. Isabella Amado Medrano awarded the Olympic Tripartite spot for WAG:
Rio 2016 tripartite spots for WAG, MAG and Rhythmic were announced during the week and Isabella Amado Medrano who represents Panama was awarded the spot for Women’s Artistic. The future Boise State gymnast trains in the U.S. at Excalibur Gymnastics in Virginia Beach, Virginia, the club famous for being Gabby Douglas’ old club before she moved to train at Chow’s Gymnastics. Isabella will make history in Rio by becoming the first ever Panamanian gymnast to compete at an Olympic Games.
8. Dipa Karmakar rewarded for earning her historic Olympic berth:
The first ever Indian female gymnast to reach the Olympic Games was rewarded this week by the Tripura Cricket Association with a cheque for 1.5m rupees to help with the hefty training expenses that Olympic training concurs. The much needed money will be welcomed im sure by the 22 year old Commonwealth Games bronze medalist who has made history through her Gymnastics career. This reward will hopefully serve to motivate Dipa further and furthermore encourage more young Indian girls to get involved with gymnastics or encourage the sport to develop further in India.