Category Archives: Gymnastics

Qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Gymnastics Events: A Step-By-Step Guide

In the coming months, the qualifying process will begin for the next Olympic Games which will take place in Tokyo from 24 July to 9 August 2020. A total of 324 athlete places for the Gymnastics events will be up for grabs between this year and the spring of 2020. The FIG underlines the events not to be missed on the road to Tokyo and provides videos clarifying the qualifying process.

Simone Biles and her teammates Gabrielle Douglas, Alexandra Raisman, Madison Kocian (hidden) and Lauren Hernandez, RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES – WOMENS ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS, USA

Artistic Gymnastics (Video)
Available places: 98 male gymnasts + 98 female gymnasts

The qualifying process underwent an in-depth review after the Rio Games. In theory, there are as many as seven gymnasts from any given country who can qualify for both the men’s and women’s competitions respectively. Yet the maximum is not seven but six in the case of those countries who earn a ticket for the team competition.

The size of the national teams has been reduced to four members, who can take part in both the team and individual events. In addition to these four team members, each country can earn up to two additional places for the individual competition only.

The first places will be awarded in Doha (QAT) at the 2018 World Championships (25 October-3 November), when the three medal-winning countries in the team competition will also pick up four tickets each to Tokyo.

The 2019 Worlds in Stuttgart (GER), from 4-13 October, are the next opportunities for hopefuls: at the end of the qualification competition, the nine remaining team places will be awarded along with 12 places for men and 20 for women, which will be decided by the rankings in the All-Around competition. Additionally, the three top gymnasts in each apparatus final in Stuttgart, excluding those from qualified teams, will also book their Olympic ticket.

The specialists will have another opportunity with the Apparatus World Cup series between November 2018 and March 2020. The four women’s and six men’s winners on each apparatus – a ranking decided by taking the best three results of each participant in the series – will be Tokyo-bound (on the condition that these gymnasts have not participated in the qualification of their team).

There will be the possibility of gaining extra individual places for the competing countries via the 2020 All-Around World Cup series – these will be available to the top three countries in this four-stage series running in March and April of that year.

The final qualifying opportunity will come at the continental championships in spring 2020 when there will be two individual places at stake for each of Africa, America, Europe and Asia and one place for Oceania.

Dina Averina

Rhythmic Gymnastics (Video)
Available places: 26 individual gymnasts + 14 groups

For the groups, the serious business begins with the 2018 World Championships in Sofia (BUL), from 10-16 September, which will see the first three qualifying places in contention. A large part of the places will be allocated in Azerbaijan at the following year’s Worlds, from 16-22 September 2019 in Baku, where there will be 16 places at stake in the individual competition and five for the groups.

The individual gymnasts will have another opportunity to earn a place for their country in the 2020 World Cup series which will comprise four stages in April – with three places up for grabs.

The remaining route to Tokyo is via the 2020 continental championships, where there will be one place available in each continent’s individual and group events respectively.

Trampoline (Video)
Available places: 16 male gymnasts + 16 female gymnasts

Half of the qualifying places will be at stake in the very arena where the Olympics will unfold when Tokyo hosts the World Championships between 28 November and 1 December 2019, with the eight finalists in the individual competition securing a ticket for their country to the Games (albeit with a maximum of one per country).

The 2019-2020 World Cups will present another opportunity for the highest-ranked participants in this six-stage series to earn a place for their country, while the continental championships in May 2020 will decide more places, one for each continent not yet represented.

Worth noting…

As host nation, Japan is allocated a number of protected places, although these will be awarded to other countries if Japan’s athletes fill this quota of places through the qualifying process. There are also a few places reserved for gymnasts from under-represented countries, selected by a tripartite commission for the Olympic movement a few months before the start of the Games.

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2022 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships Hosting Rights Awarded to Liverpool

Liverpool (GBR) will host the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in 2022. The FIG Council, at its meeting in Istanbul (TUR) on 11-12 May, voted to award this 51st edition of the Worlds to British Gymnastics.

The FIG’s decision sends the World Championships back to Great Britain seven years after a memorable 2015 edition in Glasgow, which marked a turning point in the event’s presentation. The Worlds will run from 28 October to 6 November 2022 at the Echo Arena, a venue which has been hosting the British Championships since 2012.

“The Glasgow Worlds became, for the FIG, a reference point for the staging of Gymnastics. The bid that British Gymnastics presented us is promising another great event in a city with a real love for the sport, and this is something for us to celebrate,” said Morinari Watanabe, the FIG President.

“We are delighted Liverpool has been selected to host the 2022 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. What an exciting year it’s going to be with the 2022 Commonwealth Games also taking place on home soil. The World Championships should be a qualifying event for the 2024 Olympic Games so expect to see the World’s absolute best at Liverpool 2022 including many international Olympic stars,” said Jane Allen, CEO of British Gymnastics.

Echo Arena
credit McCoy Wynne,

It was at the City of Liverpool Gymnastics Club that Elizabeth Tweddle came through to become the first British world champion in Artistic Gymnastics. Tweddle, the most successful British female gymnast, with a bronze medal from the London Olympics and three world titles, provided her support for the Liverpool bid.

“I’m thrilled to see this prestigious event coming to my home town. That would have inspired me so much as a young gymnast. To see the World’s best competing in my own town is just fantastic. Spectators are in for a treat and I know Liverpool will give all visitors a very warm welcome,” she said.

There will be three editions of the World Championships before Liverpool. This year’s Worlds take place in Doha (QAT) between 25 October and 3 November, while Stuttgart (GER) will host the 2019 Worlds, from 4-13 October, and Copenhagen (DEN) the 2021 edition, from 18-24 October that year.

ACROBATIC GYMNASTICS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: ZAGOSKINA AND MAN-MOUNTAIN SUPRUNOV FUEL RUSSIAN GOLD RUSH

Russia once again proved utterly irresistible on Acrobatic Gymnastics’ biggest stage of all, as both the Women’s Group and the Men’s Pair claimed World Championship gold in Antwerp’s rocking Lotto Arena.

The best of the rest put up a fine fight, with the capacity crowd treated to all the sport has to offer but in the end nothing could stop the irrepressible Kseniia Zagoskina (RUS) with her two teammates and the gigantic Nikolay Suprunov and his top Igor Mishev (RUS) from grabbing the glory.

From the moment they first strutted into the Arena during Friday’s opening balance exercise, Zagoskina, Daria Chebulanka and Polina Plastinina have looked unbeatable.

“I feel like a winner when I walk out,” admitted Zagoskina. And, despite spirited efforts from China, who won bronze, and Belarus who took silver, a score of 30.060 in the final was enough to hand the Russian trio the win they wanted by more than half a point.

“We train really hard to make it look easy,” Zagoskina said. “It wasn’t easy but we had higher difficulty than the others, so we could make little mistakes.”

Russian Women’s Groups have now won nine of the past 10 World Championship titles.

Suprunov and Mishev retain title in style

If Zagoskina and her crew owned the Lotto Arena from the beginning, not many present on Saturday will forget the sight of 1.97m-tall Suprunov powering his partner to their second successive World Championship gold in the Men’s Pair.

From their signature move – in which Mishev vaults from the floor onto Suprunov’s broad shoulders – through to their impeccable balance routines, the duo reigned supreme scoring 29.490.

“It looks good because I am very tall,” Suprunov said of their favourite move. “I am the tallest Acrobatic gymnast, which is important because my top is big too.”

Ri Hyo Song and Kong Yong Won (PRK) produced a fun-filled, highly creative combined exercise to snatch the silver medal from Great Britain’s grasp. Not that the British duo of Adam Upcott and Charlie Tate were complaining too much.

“Our coach just said that is the best we’ve ever done,” Tate said after receiving a score of 28.950. “I feel like we’ve just started, we’ve had four months together, I mean, what can we do in a year and four months?”

Belgian pair, Robin Casse and Kilian Goffaux, may well be looking to the future too. The home hopes saw their brave efforts to give the crowd the gold they so vociferously wanted end in agony. A fall during an early balance routine left the 2017 World Games bronze medallists distraught.

“Anybody can make a mistake and today it was us, it’s really devastating at this moment,” Casse said.

China shine as Men’s Group competition heads for thrilling finale

China’s remarkable conveyor belt of talent was on show for all to see as the Men’s Group completed their second qualifying exercise on Saturday. Rui Liuming, a 2016 World Champion, has long led his all-conquering Group with charisma and style to spare but he may now have a serious rival, as 15-year-old top Jiang Heng propelled China’s second quartet through a stunning display that had large sections of the Lotto Arena crowd on their feet.

“What they did today is way beyond expectations, it was amazing,” Rui said. “We work with them, they are very good.”

Jiang, Fu Zhi, Guo Pei and Zhang Junshuo sit first in qualifying with just the combined to come, leaving Rui and his decorated team in danger of missing the final – given just one team per nation can progress.

Daria Chebulanka, Kseniia Zagoskina and Polina Plastinina, Women’s Group Russia

Double Darias show intent with Chernova looking set for third gold

An epic battle is shaping up in the Women’s Pairs, with the pre-Championship favourites, Russia’s Daria Guryeva and Daria Kalinina recovering in style from their shaky performance in Friday’s balance exercise to post a huge 29.290 in the dynamic. The 2016 World Championship and 2017 World Games gold medallists lie in fourth.

But the leaders from day one, Israel’s Roni Surzon and Mika Lefkovits remain in pole position and seem in no mood to give up their spot.

It was very much business as usual in the Mixed Pairs, as the seemingly invincible Russian duo of Marina Chernova and Georgii Pataraia stretched their lead to 3.275 points with one qualifying exercise to come.

“My coach, who has been coaching Acro for 64 years, says they are the best Mixed Pair he has ever seen,” the USA’s Sean Obley said.

The Mixed Pair, Women’s Pair, Men’s Group and Team World Championship titles will all be decided on Sunday. Do not miss it.

ACROBATIC GYMNASTICS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS:TREBLE-TITLE CHASING CHERNOVA LIGHTS UP A DAY OF SHOCKS

Among a mass of exhilarating displays of strength, artistry and flexibility, defending Mixed Pairs World Champions Marina Chernova and Georgii Pataraia (RUS) shone the brightest on a thrilling first day of qualifying at the 26th FIG Acrobatic World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium.

Led by Chernova, who is going for her third successive World Championship gold, the Russian duo established a vast lead of 2.02 points over the field after the opening dynamic exercise.

“It’s very hard work what they do, it’s very impressive,” said Belarus’ Artur Beliakou, who with partner Volha Melnik lies in third. “We will have to upgrade our difficulty two-times or three times more to beat them.”

For the pair themselves, it was not quite a perfect day at the office.

“We are satisfied, I would give us 95% for that,” Pataraia said.

It was a similar tale in the Women’s Group with fellow all-conquering Russians, Daria Chebulanka, Polina Plastinina and Kseniia Zagoskina relegating the rest to a fight for second in the qualifying rounds. After flawless dynamic and balance routines, the trio sit comfortably ahead of their opponents.

“It’s a little bit annoying that they (the Russian group) keep beating us but it means they must be working harder,” said Veranika Nabokina, who is part of the Belarus team that sits in second.

New moves light up magnificent Men’s Group competition

Despite a pair of immaculate performances from China’s two leading quartet, it was another Russian team that stole the limelight in the Men’s Group. German Kudriashov, Alexander Sorokin, Valeriy Tukhashvili and Kirill Zadorin may just be fifth after the opening qualifying round, but their extraordinary new move, featuring three of them holding up the top via one-armed handstands (as pictured below/above) captured the hearts of those inside the Lotto Arena.

“This move is very difficult, not everyone can do it, but as we had three tops and just one base (in their four) we tried it,” Sorokin explained afterwards. “We have other surprises for the next exercises.”

Portugal’s quartet also thrilled the fans with their signature ‘Acro Snake’ move.

China’s 2016 World Championship winning team of Li Zheng, Rui Liuming, Zhang Teng and Zhou Jiahuai lead the way with the dynamic and combined exercises to come in qualification.

Marina Chernova and Georgii Pataraia, Mixed Pair Russia

Shocks and surprises

Not all the favourites had it their own way, with the shock of the day coming in the Women’s Pair. Russia Double Darias – Guryeva and Kalinina – unexpectedly fell during their balance exercise and sit sixth.

Israel’s Mika Lefkovits and partner Roni Surzon took advantage of the surprise slip up by the 2016 World Championship and 2017 World Games gold medallists with a delightful routine pushing them into first position with two exercises to come.

Another Russian 2016 World Championship winning pair, Igor Mishev and Nikolay Suprunov also dropped below their usual standards in the Men’s Pair. A misstep in the morning balance exercise left them fourth before a strong showing in the dynamic left them second, behind 2017 World Games gold medal winners, Tim Sebastian and Michail Kraft (GER).

Mixed day for home hopes

For the home crowd in the Lotto Arena it was to be an up and down day. Poster boys, Robin Casse and Kilian Goffaux (BEL) admitted to feeling the weight of expectation ahead of their opening balance exercise in the Men’s Pair.

“I think it got to us a little bit, a lot of home fans, it was big pressure,” Goffaux said, who with Casse has won gold in both of the World Cup events this year.

A stumble left the duo well off the pace before the highest score in the afternoon’s dynamic exercise dragged them back up to eighth position.

The Belgian Men’s Group also suffered, with their pyramid collapsing. In contrast, the Mixed Pair of Marte Snoeck and Bram Roettger were happy enough with their closing position of seventh while the Women’s Group of Anna Hyde, Eva Hyde and Lena De Moor flew the Belgian flag the highest, ending day one in fourth.

The Championships continue tomorrow with qualification for all five disciplines to be decided and the medals for Men’s Pair and Women’s Group handed out.

FIVE QUESTIONS FOR THE ACROBATIC GYMNASTICS AMBASSADORS, NIKKI SNEL AND ELINE DE SMEDT

In 2014, at their last World Championships, Eline de Smedt and Nikki Snel finally won the gold medal in Women’s pair, crowning their career in the best way possible. The inspiring Belgian duo will act as Ambassadors at the World Championships in Antwerp this week.

What does it mean for you to be Acrobatic Gymnastics Ambassadors for the 2018 World Championships in Antwerp?
Nikki Snel
: We see it as a great honour that we can be the ambassadors for the World Championships. We hope we can make the sport more famous and motivate many more gymnasts to work even harder to achieve their goals.
Eline de Smedt: It gives a sense of importance, and of recognition even though Acrobatics Gymnastics is a very small sport in a world of so many others. You hardly hear or see anything in the media or on television about the competitions in “our” sport. It’s a sport that’s beautiful to watch, a sport requiring so much discipline and a sport which asks so much of the body. That’s why we want to let the world see just how many people train so hard to be part of this beautiful sport!

What has this sport brought to your lives?
EDS
: Mostly dedication, strength and discipline. It taught me that you have to work very hard to achieve your dreams!
NS: It has ensured that we are still working very hard to achieve our goals. Both in terms of school and work. In addition, it gave us beautiful memories that we will never forget.

If you could relive a moment in your Gymnastics life, what would it be and why?
EDS
: Many people ask me if I miss life as a gymnast. Well yes, I do a lot!
My partner, the coaches, the supporters and many friends in the Gymnastics world. I had many beautiful moments in my career but if I could turn back time… it would be to the finals at the World Championships at Levallois, France. That feeling of satisfaction that we’d made it was great!
NS: There are many moments that I would like to relive. The feeling after a good competition, or a training session where you’ve worked hard and learnt a lot…
But if I have to choose one moment, then I’ll choose the World Championships in France in 2014. A fantastic end to our Gymnastics career. A euphoric feeling after all those years of hard work, with a great deal of gratitude for our coaches. This is a moment that I will never forget and a feeling that I would like to relive again.

Of all the advice you were given in your career, is there one thing that has really stuck with you and made a difference for you?
EDS
: Our coach once said: “It’s hard to become number one but it’s harder to stay number one!” Every time after a competition I reminded myself of these words. That’s why I loved doing this sport. The dedication needed for the hard training sessions, time and time again, the discipline needed with your partner, your trainers, the whole entourage and the other gymnasts. This is what made me what I am now. I’m not a quitter. I love structure in my life but most of all I am a perfectionist. I believe these things are very useful in my life outside sport.
NS: “Believe in yourself and never give up”. I often found it difficult to control my stress during competitions and this is something people often said to me. And sometimes it helped if I said this to myself. Now I still say it to myself sometimes when I have to perform under pressure.

What would you tell a young child who dreams of being a Gymnastics champion?
EDS
: I would say: “Follow your dreams!” Because once you are a Gymnastics champion you forget all the pain you’ve been through, the hard work of years and years training will pay off! When you get a big title, that’s something no one can take away from you. It’s a title you worked so hard for and you can be very proud off. Yes, there will be times it doesn’t go well. But you need to get through these moments and you will come back stronger! Worth the title.
NS: Go for your goal. Never give up. You can only achieve each goal with ups and downs. It is worth going for it. It creates memories that you will never forget for the rest of your life. In the end you forget all the difficult moments and you only remember the beautiful ones.

FIRST FIG PARKOUR WORLD CUP PROVES BIG IN JAPAN

The first FIG World Cup event for Parkour concluded in Hiroshima on Sunday with the women’s Speed-run and men’s Freestyle final – and with the satisfaction of having proved a huge popular success. Launched as part of a new Japanese leg on the FISE’s Festival of Action Sports circuit, the Parkour competition generated massive public interest.

David Belle, who created Parkour as a method of physical training in the 1990s and today presides over the FIG Parkour Commission, said: “I didn’t think the public would be so receptive. There was an immediate connection and it created a wonderfully positive energy for everybody, which is extremely positive for the future.”

Training before competition in Hiroshima. Photo credit: Jean-Pierre Limery

It was the FIG President, Morinari Watanabe, who had initiated the idea of organising a Japanese stage on the FISE world tour and he too was taken aback by the large crowds which showed so much enthusiasm for this young discipline. “This World Cup has provided a first milestone which we must build on for future progress. There were thousands enjoying this spectacle and we can take elements from this positive experience and use them also in the world of Gymnastics.”

Women’s Speed-run
With its series of walls and blocks, the course was certainly intimidating for the eight women in contention, all of them well aware that their four limbs would be tested to the full. Saskia Neville from the Netherlands had devised a strategy for surmounting the obstacles without sapping her strength too quickly and she followed it to the letter, her tactics paying off as she finished top of the ranking.

Results
Saskia Neville (NED)
Hikari Izumi (JPN)
Anna Griukach (UKR)
Aleksandra Shevchenko (RUS)
Thelma Ilbacken (SWE)
Anna Yamashita (AUS)
Stephania Zitis (AUS)
Karla Gonzalez (MEX)

Pavels Petkuns (LAT) during the Freestyle final. Photo credit: JP Limery

Men’s Freestyle

Just like the previous day’s Speed-run final, the Freestyle final captured the imagination of the watching crowd. The eight finalists had the freedom to use the different elements of the course in whatever way they wished, and they took full advantage, the most audacious among them even daring to launch into somersaults from a platform several metres above the crowd. For the judges, however, it was fluidity of movement and creativity, rather than bravery, that they rewarded most highly and Latvia’s Pavels Petkuns, a well-known figure on the Parkour scene, emerged as the unanimous winner thanks to his impressive mastery of the space around him.

Results
Pavels Petkuns (LAT)
Waldemar Muller (GER)
Kamil Tobiasz (POL)
Johan Tonnoir (FRA)
Pedro Leon Gomez (ESP)
Kenichi Sato (JPN)
Hajime Yuuki (JPN)
Zen Shimada (JPN)

After Hiroshima, Montpellier in France will host the second Parkour World Cup, again under the umbrella of the FISE event which will be held on 8-13 May.

THREE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE FIRST FIG PARKOUR WORLD CUP

A short walk from the Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima’s former municipal baseball stadium will provide the setting for the very first FIG Parkour World Cup, taking place from 6-8 April as part of the FISE’s World Action Sports Festival which also includes BMX, skateboarding, roller freestyle, bouldering and breaking. Here are three things to know about this exciting debut event.

Athletes from every continent
On Friday, if the weather remains kind, there will be 35 participants – 27 male and eight female – taking part in qualifications in Speed-run and Freestyle. These competitors come from far and wide – Australia, Belgium, Benin, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Latvia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine – which illustrates that Parkour, a discipline created by Frenchman David Belle as a form of physical training, has already roused considerable interest on every continent.

Taken by the waves
Like the movement of waves, with their crests and hollows, the course conceived by Charles Perrière is pitted with obstacles which unfold rapidly over a distance of 40m, offering no let-up for the competitors. In Speed-run, they must overcome this series of obstacles in first one direction and then the other, at the maximum speed possible. The eight fastest will meet in a final round comprising a series of direct duels. In Freestyle, where their technical performance is judged, they can make use of the obstacles – walls and bars – to exhibit their style and display their creativity.

Training before competition in Hiroshima. Photo credit: Jean-Pierre Limery

A showcase for discovering Parkour
Aside from the competition itself, the public will be able to discover the art of overcoming obstacles with the guidance of some true experts in the discipline. In these exhibitions, people of all ages will be able to learn the basic principles of Parkour and the steps needed to follow in order to achieve the control of movement and mastery of the body that is required before taking on these obstacles. These introductory workshops are an important educational tool for the development of this young discipline, promoting an approach which respects the principles of basic safety.