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Archive: May 2004

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MAY 30 - WILLIAMS OUT OF NATIONALS, TRIALS

Lydia Williams
2003 Gymnix International
Photo by Grace Chiu

Lydia Williams' back injury will prevent her from competing at both the upcoming Canadian championships, as well as next month's Olympic Trials. Tests performed last week revealed that Williams, 17, sustained a compression fracture in her T11 vertebrae. The injury surfaced after a training session for the Pacific Alliance Championships, which took place last month in Hawaii (see May 27 News story for more details).

Williams' coach, Carol-Angela Orchard confirmed her athlete's inability to compete at the upcoming national championships and trials, though she noted that "Lydia will certainly attend both events to cheer on her teammates." Despite the setback, it appears that Williams will be ready to resume training relatively soon. "The doctors have assured us, that just like any other bone in the body, it will heal 100% and she will be back to her full program shortly," Orchard said.


MAY 27 - WILLIAMS' STATUS FOR NATIONALS UNCERTAIN

Williams in training prior to
Pan Ams in 2003

World championship team member Lydia Williams is still recovering from a back injury sustained at last month's Pacific Alliance Championships, but is hopeful she can recover in time to compete at the upcoming national championships. Williams, 17, sustained the back injury on the last day of model training prior to leaving for the Pacific Alliance meet, and was forced to watch the competition on the sidelines while receiving therapy.

Prior to the injury, Williams had reportedly been training well, and had just completed a string of steady performances in model training. "She competed well in Ottawa during the selection meet, hitting four-for-four," Williams' coach, Carol-Angela Orchard told Gymn.ca last week. "She then did a good job in Calgary during the camp and she did two full model trainings (competitions) while there. Her back went on the final day in the afternoon training session just before departing for Hawaii. She had just competed four strong events that morning.

"Not competing at Pacific Alliance was tough on her," Orchard continued, "She had worked so hard for it. We tried every type of therapy [with the team trainer] once in Hawaii. Lydia can take more pain than most gymnasts and it simply was not possible for her to compete."

Since the time of her injury, Williams has been working to rehabillitate her back, and is still unsure of whether she can compete at the national championships, which get underway next week at Mississauga's Hershey Centre. "This is a difficult time for her (and everyone at Sport Seneca) as we wait for more test results," Orchard said, noting that Williams "will undergo two more tests next week so we should have all the information we require by nationals."


MAY 25 - SHEWFELT TO MISS NATIONALS AS INJURY HEALS

Shewfelt at the
2003 world championships

Photo courtesy Grace Chiu

Double world bronze medallist Kyle Shewfelt will likely not compete at next week's Canadian championships as he continues to recover from a serious ankle injury sustained earlier this year, Gymn.ca has learned.

Shewfelt, 21, sustained a talus bone contusion when he landed awkwardly on vault at the Cottbus Cup in Germany in early March. Doctors have told him that the injury typically takes between three and nine months to heal, though Shewfelt is hopeful that he will be at full strength by the time of the Olympics in Athens. "I have looked at the calendar and I think that if I am completely recovered by mid-June then I will be in perfect shape for Olympics," he told Gymn.ca earlier this week.

At the time of the injury, Shewfelt was on a roll, having won the bronze on floor exercise and vault at last year's world championships, becoming the first Canadian to accomplish such a feat. He followed up his record-setting peformance with a gold medal on floor and bronze on vault at the DTB Cup in November, and was the leader on floor after preliminaries in Cottbus when he sustained the injury. Since then, Shewfelt has been unable to train at full strength, though he has recently begun to train Yurchenko vaults and perform some tumbling with soft landings on floor exercise.

"It is kind of funny because I never thought that I would be so excited to do a Yurchenko or a double back. I am really happy with the way the recovery is going though," he said. "I think that many positive things have come out of this injury and I know that it has made me stronger. It has also made me realize that I shouldn't take anything for granted."

As for his status at the national championships, which get underway next Wednesday at Mississauga's Hershey Centre, Shewfelt said he will likely not compete any events as he continues to heal. "I am still not able to do any hard landings or my tumbling passes. I just don't think it's worth the risk to compete at nationals." Shewfelt said he will, however, travel to Ontario to attend a training camp in Burlington this week, and will do some media work while at the national championships.

"I am upset that I won't be competing at nationals, but it is the best thing for me at the moment. My goals are for August and I need to be smart right now," Shewfelt said.

Despite the setback, Shewfelt remains confident that he will be prepared for a peak performance in Athens. "I expect to be 95% by trials and then 100% by Olympics.

"I am really looking forward to the summer. I am looking forward to the training camps and all of the preparation. I am also looking forward to competing in my second Olympic Games. I think that it is going to be awesome and I don't think that I will even remember having this stupid injury when Athens comes."


MAY 23 - PLANTE PICKS UP THREE MEDALS AT KAROLYI RANCH

Plante at the 2002
world championships

Photo courtesy Grace Chiu

Amélie Plante (Gymnix) put forth a stellar performance yesterday, at the U.S. National Training Center. Competing at the International Friendship event, Plante earned top score (9.55) on her specialty, the uneven bars. 

"This is exactly the confidence boost I needed heading into the Olympic trials," Plante told Canadian Press of her gold medal performance. "I'm a bit surprised to win but I knew I had nailed a very good routine without mistakes. It's a very difficult routine and I had not been able to do it this well before in competition." She finished the day with two additional medals, bronzes on beam (8.300) and floor (8.65). Earlier in the week, Plante placed 10th in the all-around competition.

Gael Mackie (Omega), who finished 9th all-around in Wednesday's all-around competition, picked up one medal in yesterday's event finals. The recognition came on the first apparatus contested, the vault. Mackie scored a combined 9.05, to place second behind the USA's Susan Jackson (9.362). "The first vault was one of the best I've ever done," Mackie reported to Canadian Press. "I was really focusing on trying to stick my landings and I achieved that on the first vault. It was a really good experience."

Vault: 
1. Susan Jackson (USA) 9.362 
2. Gael Mackie (CAN) 9.05 
3. Mélanie Marti (SWI) 8.987. 
4. 
5. Amélie Plante (CAN)
Beam: 
1. Tabitha Yim (USA) 9.125 
2. Mélanie Marti (SWI) 8.575 
3. Amélie Plante (CAN) 8.300

Bars: 

1. Amélie Plante (CAN) 9.55 
2. Liz Tricase (USA) 9.45 
3. Kristina Comforte (USA) 8.80 
4. Gael Mackie (CAN) 8.65

Floor: 

1. Samantha Sheehan (USA) 9.500 
2. Carly Janiga (USA) 9.200 
3. Amélie Plante (CAN) 8.65

MAY 22 - HABBIB, VACULIK MEDAL IN RUSSIA

A trio of gymnasts from Gemini recently competed at the 2004 Dityatin Cup, held May 11-15 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Brittney Habbib finished 7th AA in the senior division. Kelsey Hope and Kristina Vaculik finished 9th and 13th AA in the junior division, respectively. Gemini's best efforts came on floor: Habbib finished 2nd and Vaculik 3rd. Check Olympic Eurogym for complete results and photographs.


MAY 22 - OLYMPIANS TURGEON AND COCKBURN REPEAT AS CHAMPIONS

Mathieu Turgeon and Karen Cockburn, of Toronto, both Olympic bronze medallists in Sydney, successfully defended their Canadian titles in individual trampoline at the Canadian Championships in Toronto yesterday. Cockburn, who is also the reigning world champion, scored 108.3 to take the title by over 5 points over Heather McManus, of Ottawa, who will also be heading to Athens for the Olympics this summer, who scored 103.1. Bronze medallist Rosannagh MacLennan of Toronto equalled McManus' 103.1 score, with McManus getting the nod for the silver due to a higher finals score. For the men, Turgeon won his third Canadian title, scoring 109.80 to finish exactly one point ahead of silver medallist Bryan Milonja of St. Bruno, Quebec. The bronze medal went to Toronto's Martin Meyers, who scored 103.7.

In other events this week, Burlington's Denis Vachon was victorious in two different disciplines, winning gold in the tumbling and double mini trampoline events. Rounding out the medal podium in the men's tumbling were Calgary's Cole Roycroft and David Poirier of Acton Vale, Quebec. In the men's double mini event, Red Deer's Bob Watson and Toronto's Matthew Eldridge finished second and third respectively. In the women's double mini competition, world champion Sarah Charles of Kelowna, BC, defended her title ahead of Calgary's Julie Warnock and Jane Bickerstaffe of Maple Ridge, BC. In women's tumbling, Burlington's Andree Matte took the gold ahead of Calgary's Lindsay Hebert and Burlington's Emily Smith.


MAY 20 - MACKIE 9TH, PLANTE 10TH AT KAROLYI RANCH

Mackie at the 2003
world championships

Photo courtesy Grace Chiu

Canadian Olympic team contenders Gael Mackie and Amelie Plante finished ninth and tenth, respectively, at the International Friendship event, held at the Women’s National Team Training Center on the grounds of the Karolyi Ranch, just outside of Houston, Texas, yesterday. The competition was billed as an opportunity for athletes who have been injured to gain international experience prior to the Athens Olympics in August.

The competition was won by defending U.S. national champion, Courtney Kupets, who suffered a torn Achilles tendon during training at last year's world championships. Kupets' all-around total of 38.175 was one of the highest scores achieved by any athlete this quadrennium. Finishing second was U.S. up-and-comer Carly Janiga (37.075), while Tabitha Yim and Kristina Comforte tied for third with 36.775. U.S. athletes dominated the competition, taking the top seven places in the all-around.

Mackie, 15, who has not competed internationally this year due to a back injury, earned a 35.250 total for ninth. Plante, a veteran of three world championship teams, scored 34.975 for tenth. Individual scores are not available at this time, but will be posted once they become available.

1. Courtney Kupets (USA) 38.175
2. Carly Janiga (USA) 37.075
3. Tabitha Yim (USA) 36.775 
3. Kristina Comforte (USA) 36.775 
5. Susan Jackson (USA) 36.375 
6. Samantha Sheehan (USA) 36.050 
7. Annia Hatch (USA) 35.750
8. Brenda Magana (MEX) 35.625 
9. Gael Mackie (CAN) 35.250
10. Amelie Plante (CAN) 34.975
11. Melanie Marti (SUI) 34.625 
12. Renata Kiss (HUN) 33.375


MAY 19 - McMANUS, TURGEON EARN OLYMPIC BERTHS

Turgeon at the 2003
world championships

Photo courtesy Grace Chiu

Olympic bronze medallist Mathieu Turgeon will be returning to the Olympic Games to defend his medal, based on his performance today at the Canadian Tumbling and Trampoline Championships. Also qualifying to the Games was Heather McManus, who will join world champion Karen Cockburn in Athens as Canada's two female representatives. Cockburn had already earned her Olympic berth based on her performance at last year's world championships.

For McManus and Turgeon, their Olympic berths were decided based on the best two of three scores from last year's world championships, a World Cup event in Germany held earlier this year, and the preliminary competition at this year's nationals, which are being held this week at Toronto's Humber College.

The men's competition came down to the wire, with Turgeon edging out pre-meet leader Bryan Milonja by the slimmest of margins. Heading into the meet, Milonja, 18, held a slim 0.2 lead on the 25 year-old veteran Turgeon. In today's competition, Turgeon outscored Milonja, 68.8 to 68.1 over two routines.

After the meet, Turgeon told Gymnastics Canada, "I came here with routines I was comfortable with but still the highest in degree in difficulty. The training had been very intense over the past couple of weeks because I knew it would come down to the wire."

While Milonja will miss out on the opportunity to compete for Canada at the Olympics this year, he will still travel to the Games as an alternate. Despite the disappointment of missing out on an Olympic berth by such a small margin, Milonja told Gymnastics Canada, "I can't complain, I did my best routines possible," adding, "I'll go to Athens and learn as much as I can and then prepare for [the Olympics in Beijing], China in 2008."

In the women's competition, McManus was heavily favoured to earn the second Olympic berth, and she delivered despite not being at the top of her game. In the preliminary round, the 31 year-old, who has been competing internationally since 1990, actually finished third, but advanced to the Olympics based on the strong lead she had built coming into the competition. Cockburn finished first in the prelminary round with 68.5 points, while Rosannagh MacLennan finished second with 64.5, and McManus was third with 64.1.


MAY 14 - PLANTE AND MACKIE TRAVEL TO KAROLYI RANCH

Plante at the 2003
world championships

Photo courtesy Grace Chiu

Amélie Plante (Gymnix) and Gael Mackie (Omega) are scheduled to attend an informal international invitational at the U.S. National Training Center. The training center is situated on the famed Karolyi Ranch in New Waverly, Texas - about 50 miles North of Houston. Other invitees include Great Britain, Sweden, Switzerland, Hungary, and Mexico. The host USA team is expected to include many familiar faces, most of whom have also struggled with injury this past year: Tabitha Yim (Gliders), Annia Hatch (Stars), Samantha Sheehan (CGA), Kristina Comforte (IGI), Liz Tricase (IGI), and Carly Janiga (Desert Devils).

The training camp begins Monday May 17 with competition scheduled later in the week. The All-Around competition will be contested Thursday May 20, but not all athletes are expected to compete on all four apparatus. Apparatus finals will be held Saturday May 22. Traveling with the girls will be personal coaches Francine Bouffard (Gymnix) and Vladimir Lashin (Omega), and women's national coach Andrei Rodionenko.

Following the camp, both girls will continue last minute preparations for the 2004 Canadian National Championships. Held at the Hershey Center (Mississauga) June 1-6, the event marks the first official competition for selection to the 2004 Olympic team.


Kikuchi at the 2003
world championships

Photo courtesy Grace Chiu

MAY 11 - GYMN.CA INTERVIEW: KIKUCHI READIES HIMSELF FOR THE ROAD TO ATHENS

For the past three years, David Kikuchi has been one of the mainstays on the Canadian men's gymnastics team. Coached by his father, Tak Kikuchi at Halifax's Alta Gymnastics Club, Kikuchi has quietly risen to the top of the sport, both in Canada and abroad. As the highest finisher for Canada at last year's world championships, Kikuchi established himself as one of the front-runners for the 2004 Olympic team, and placed a further stamp on his growing resume with a first-place finish at the 2003 Elite Canada, after finishing second in 2002.

Now 24 years old, Kikuchi may be peaking just in time to pace the Canadian team in Athens, where the team has set a goal of finishing among the top eight. In this Gymn.ca exclusive interview, Kikuchi discusses his preparations and his goals for the coming months leading up to next month's national championships in Mississauga, as well as the Olympic Games in Athens.



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