Lauren Mitchell’s Run on Rio Likely at an End


Lauren Mitchell at the Commonwealth Games in 2014. Photo via WAIS.

Lauren Mitchell, the first Australian female gymnast to win a gold medal at the World Championships, was back on the Road to Rio. After dealing with a shoulder injury following the London Olympics, Mitchell went back and forth on continuing on as an elite level gymnast. In 2014, she decided to return to training and just see what happened.

According to The West Australian Sport, Mitchell set her sights on Rio in May. “I was really in limbo for a very long time so it’s only probably been in the last couple of weeks that I’ve really kind of stepped it up and said, OK, give it one more crack,” Mitchell said “I had the AOC athletes’ commission meeting last week and just listening to everyone talking about it again kind of re-motivated me.”

And all was going well. Mitchell was named to the team who would compete at the World University Games in Korea, opening today. In a training session on Tuesday night before she was to depart, Mitchell injured her knee.  Today, the Western Australian Institute of Sport released an update that confirmed Mitchell has a serious injury.

Mitchell has suffered ruptures to both the anterior cruciate (ACL) and posterior cruciate (PCL) ligaments of her right knee. Scans confirmed significant damage to her ACL and PCL and Lauren has been in consultation with her medical and support team in determining the best course of action for her rehabilitation – a process that is still on-going.

Lauren wishes to stress that she has yet to make a decision on her gymnastics future and will hold-off on an announcement until after her treatment has been determined.

Mitchell took to Instagram today to express her emotions in the situation.

Thank you to everyone for their tremendous amount of overwhelming support over the last few days. It’s been a tough week, and at the moment I’m focusing on proper recovery as my main priority. But what can I say.. when I do something I like to do it well 😕 Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength, no matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experiences are, if we loose hope…That’s our real disaster – Dalai Lama
#feelingthelove #notanidealsituation#nothingdonehalfassed#justkeepswimming

An injury of this magnitude usually takes a year to recover from. This makes it next to impossible for Mitchell to make the 2016 Olympics. Though she has not yet made a decision on her future in gymnastics, it is likely that a decision has been made for her regarding the Olympics. It is obvious that she will handle the situation with the class and determination she has always shown.

USA Names 2015 Pan American Games Team


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Photo via USA Gymnastics

After a long selection process, USA Gymnastics has announced the U.S. women’s team for the 2015 Pan American Games. “After two days of verification, the Selection Committee unanimously decided on the five athletes to represent the United States at the Pan Am Games,” said Martha Karolyi, in a USA Gymnastic Press Release. The team is Madison Desch of GAGE, Rachel Gowey of Chow’s Gymnastics, Amelia Hundley of Cincinnati, Emily Schild of Everest and Megan Skaggs of Gymnastics Academy of Atlanta

Most of these gymnasts do not have a great deal of international competition experience behind them. Representing the USA to the best of their ability is their first and foremost goal. But the opportunity to get experience under their belt and prove themselves on an international stage is one that each of them wants to make the most of. Karolyi went on to say, “Led by Madison Desch, who was an alternate for the 2014 World Team, this is a young but talented team, and the experience of competing at the Pan Am Games will help them as they continue to gain experience for the World Team selection. We look forward to their performances at the Games.”

Desch will go into this competition with the most experience, and help the rest of the team learn the ropes of competing internationally. Desch is an all-around gymnasts with beautiful lines, her best contribution is likely to be on bars. Gowey has only represented the USA one time internationally, and due to many injuries over the last two years, does not have as much experience in competition in general. If Gowey is able to bring to the promise she showed last year, she will be the strongest all-around hope for the team and an incredible addition to the team. Hundley showed incredible promise as a junior, but was not quite able to rise to her potential last year before injuring herself. Hundley is a standout on floor and bars, but she should also be able to contribute any event that the USA needs.

This is Schild and Skaggs first year as national team seniors. They both made their debuts earlier this year at the City of Jesolo Trophy competition. Schild’s a strongest events are vault and floor. Skaggs is a strong all-arounder. The two will be great additions to the team.

The Pan American Games run from July 10-26. The artistic woman’s gymnastics competition will begin with qualifications on Sunday, July 12 and conclude with event finals on Wednesday, July 15. The games will include an all-around, team and individual apparatus competitions. The US is sending gymnasts to compete in all forms of gymnastics, including men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics, trampoline, and rhythmic gymnastics. Schedules of competition and more information can be found on http://www.toronto2015.org

2015 Pan American Games Selection Camp Kicks Off Today


Photo by USA Gymnastics

Today kicks off the selection camp for the 2015 Pan American Games at the Karolyi Ranch. Eight gymnasts will seek to earn their spot on the five member team that will represent the USA next month in Toronto. USA Gymnastics announced the gymnasts who will be in contention for the team earlier in the month, and will announce the team selection on Friday. The selection camp will run in conjunction with the normal national team training camp.

The 2015 Pan American Games training squad includes Nia Dennis of Buckeye Gymnastics, Madison Desch of GAGE, Rachel Gowey of Chow’s Gymnastics, Felicia Hano of Gym-Max, Amelia Hundley of Cincinnati, Lauren Navarro of Gliders, Emily Schild of Everest and Megan Skaggs of Gymnastics Academy of Atlanta

All of the gymnasts selected have not had as much experience competing internationally (as seniors) as many of the other national team members who will not be vying for a spot on this team. Many have dealt with injury, either late last year or earlier this year, and so have not had the opportunity to show what they are currently capable of outside of national team training camps. Apart from the prestige of representing the USA internationally, this will be an important step in proving to Marta Karolyi and the US women’s team selection committee that they should be considered for a spot later this year on the world championship team.

The Pan American Games run from July 10-26. The artistic gymnastics competitions will include an all-around, team and individual apparatus competitions. The US is sending gymnasts to compete in all forms of gymnastics, including men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics, trampoline, and rhythmic gymnastics. Schedules of competition and more information can be found on http://www.toronto2015.org

Baku 2015 Individual Results and Videos


The individual women’s gymnastics medals for the inaugural European Games have all been claimed. Aliya Mustafina of Russia proved she is still on the hunt for the all-around on the international stage as she claimed the title at the Baku Games. Though she had some mis-steps on floor, she had done enough in her earlier events to win gold. She was followed by the reigning European National Champion, Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland. Lieke Wevers of the Netherlands improved her standings from qualifications to take the bronze.

In the individual Event Finals, Steingruber walked away with two gold medals, one on vault and one on floor, Mustafina took gold on uneven bars and Wevers took gold on balance beam. Mustafina also won the silver on floor, while Steingruber and Wevers added a bronze to their collections on the balance beam and floor respectively.

Andreea Iridon of Romania won medals on two events, a silver on beam and bronze on bars. Russia and the Netherlands each added another event medal to their tally with Seda Tutkhaylan taking a silver and Lisa top winning a bronze on vault. Sophie Scheder of Germany rounded out the group of medalists with a silver on the bars.

The games will close out on June 28 in Baku, Azerbaijani, wrapping up with the Closing Ceremonies. The inaugural European games played host to competition in many different sports, with over 6,000 athletes. Competitors represented the 50 countries of Europe with National Olympic Committees.

Read on for score details and videos recapping each Individual Final.

All Around

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Vault

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Bars


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Beam

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Floor

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Pictures and video all from http://www.baku2015.com.

Fifteen Years Later, Andreea Raducan Seeks Her Gold Medal


Andreea Raducan at the 2000 Sydney Olympics

The world of gymnastics is familiar with gymnasts not winning medals due to rules that can feel unfair. Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking situations was at the 2000 Olympics. Andreea Raducan failed a drug test after taking cold medicine provided by her doctor, and was subsequently stripped of her all-around gold medal. It was clear at the time that Raducan did not know that the cold medicine contained a banned substance.

Raducan took two pills that contain the common cold medicine, pseudoephedrineone. Many people use this regularly for allergies and sinus infections. The same dosage can show up with very different results in each person’s urine, as there is a wide spread in how it is processed the body. Raducan failed the drug test, and was stripped of her gold medal.  Unlike other situations, she was able to keep her other medals and continue competing. And the fall out went beyond Raducan. The team doctor was banned for a number of years, and Ion Ţiriac, the president of the Romanian Olympic Committee, resigned.

To add insult to injury, from 2004 to 2010, the substance was removed from the banned list. So last year, Raducan began her quest to have the decision reversed. She approached International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach to reconsider the decision. Last week, Raducan travelled to Lausanne to meet with Bach at the IOC headquarters.

Though she was met with sympathy, they chose to uphold the original decision. “This decision was very tough for Andreea and was not easily taken by the IOC at the time,” Bach said, according to ESPN. “It shows how strict our anti-doping rules are by having to apply the principle of strict liability of the athlete. On the other hand, I feel a great deal of sympathy for her because she has to suffer from a mistake by her team doctor. Even more so because this happened at the age of 16, when as an athlete you have absolute confidence in your medical team.”

Such is sport, where sometimes rules must be upheld despite the circumstances surrounding the situation. And in a world where athletes use drugs to win, a spunky 16-year-old who won all of our hearts loses out.

Results from the Inaugural 2015 European Games Qualifications and Team Finals.


The first European Games is well underway, with the first round of gymnastics competition in the books.  The event was headlined with the reigning 2015European All-around Champion, Switzerland’s Giulia Steingruber. Joining her were Russia’s returning star gymnasts, Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova and 2014 Youth Olympic Games All-around Champion, Seda Tutkhalyan.

The format at these games differs slightly from the average gymnastics competition. Qualifications were held over two days, with every country competing on vault and bars on day one and beam and floor on day two. Only one gymnast per country was able to qualify on to the individual event and all-around finals. The qualifications also served as the team competition. Each country fielded up to three gymnasts on each event, and the top two event scores determined the team medals.

Russia easily clinched the team gold, winning with a 6.5 margin. Germany just squeaked out the silver. The Netherlands took bronze.

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A healthy Mustafina showed some of her former glory, qualifying first into the all-around. Her Russian teammates, Tutkhalyan and Komova came in second and third, but were unable to move on to the finals due to the one per country rule. Steingruber qualified in second and Germany’s Sophie Scheder qualified in third.

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As one of the top European vaulters, it is no surprise that Steingruber led the vault qualifications. Tutkihalyan qualified in second, bringing power and spunk that were surprising for the tiny 15-year-old. Lisa Top of the Netherlands came in third.

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Mustafina qualified first on bars, with a beautifully performed routine out of a 6.5 difficulty score. Scheder and teammate Elisabeth Seitz tied for second, however the execution score tie-breaker went to Scheder. Only Scheder will move on to event finals. Komova and Tutkhalyan came in fourth and sixth respectively, but will also not move on to finals. Noemi Makra of Hungary qualified in third.

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Tutkhalyan just edged out Mustafina to qualify in first and move on to her second event finals with a 6.3 start value on beam. She did two stunning acrobatic combinations, a roundoff layout and a roundoff layout full to clinch her spot. Steingruber qualified in second followed by Komova who came in fourth, but along with Mustafina, will not move on to the finals. Scheder qualfied in third.

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Mustafina qualified into her second event finals, leading the pack on floor with a 6.1 difficulty score. She opened with a beautiful double layout and her routine included many difficult turns. Silvia Zarzu of Romania qualified in second followed by Lieke Wevers of the Netherlands. Laura Jurca of Romania came in fourth and Gaelle Mys of Belgium came in eighth, but will not move on to the finals.

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Full results, schedules and athlete bios can be found on the Baku 2015 website. The all-around finals will be held on Thursday, June 20 at 8:30am EST. Individual event finals will start at 7:30am EST on Saturday, June 20. Many events are being livestreamed from the Games youtube site.

Opening ceremonies for this inaugural event, held in Baku, Azerbaijani kicked off the games on Friday, June 12, and they will run through June 20, with the gymnastics competitions being held June 14-20. The games will play host to competition in many different sports, with over 6,000 athletes. Competitors will be representing the 50 countries of Europe with National Olympic Committees.

Brenna Dowell Returns to Elite Gymnastics.


Brenna Dowell at the 2014 P&G National Championships. Photo by John Cheng via USA Gymnastics.

Brenna Dowell has some unfinished business to take care of. After finding herself the alternate on the World Championship team in 2013, Dowell trained towards 2014. However a round of injuries and setbacks left her just short of her goals once again, when she was named the non-traveling alternate for the 2014 World Championship team. Rather than continue to train towards future world teams and the 2016 Olympics, Dowell decided to retire as an elite gymnast and begin her college career.

Going from elite in October 2014 to NCAA in January of 2015, Dowell had a very successful freshman year at the University of Oklahoma. She was a regular in the lineup for the Sooners on VT, UB and FX. She ended the season as the 2015 runner up on floor, the Big-12 Floor champion and the Big-12 Newcomer of the Year.

According to SoonerSports.com, Oklahoma’s head coach K.J. Kindler announced this week that Dowell has decided to take a break from her NCAA career. She will defer for a year to return to elite gymnastics and chase her dreams for a place on the 2015 World Championship team.  “This decision was the toughest choice I have ever made,” Dowell said to Soonersports.com. “My family and I prayed about it a lot, and I just felt like I had some unfinished business in the elite world.”

Dowell is a strong all-around gymnast, and brings a high level of difficulty to vault and bars. With the additions of Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas, as well as new senior Bailie Key to an already intensely competitive elite environment, Dowell has her work cut out for her. But it is work that she seems ready to do in order to pursue her dreams.

“We know that this was a very difficult decision for Brenna, but at the end of the day it came down to chasing that dream,” Kindler said. “We want Brenna to have no regrets and that means pursuing this opportunity to compete for the United States at the highest level in this Olympic year. We will be cheering loud for her from Norman and will look forward to her return to Oklahoma in the fall of 2016.”

No word has been released yet as to when Dowell will return to national team training camps or compete for the first time in 2015. The 2015 World Gymnastics Championships are Oct. 23 to Nov. 1, in Glasgow, Scotland.

Lexie Priessman Announces Retirement from Elite Gymnastics


Lexie Priessman at the Secret US Classics in 2013. Photo via USA Gymnastics

Lexie Priessman, a four year national team member and junior National Champion, announced her retirement from elite gymnastics yesterday. After an incredibly successful junior career, Priessman has spent the last two years dealing with injuries that have prevented her from competing. Instead of continuing to pursue her elite career, she has decided instead to begin her college career at LSU this fall. “I wanted to take the time personally to let all of you know I have chosen to head to college in the fall… I am so happy with my elite career and how it went, but now it’s time to move on and make some amazing memories in college gymnastics,” Priessman shared on Instagram.

Priessman made her debut as a 13-year-old at the 2010 Nastia Liukin Cup where she won the all-around. She went on to have an incredibly successful junior career, dominating on vault and floor. As a junior, she won or placed second on vault in all but one competition both in the US and internationally, competing an amanar that tied with McKayla Maroney’s in 2010.

Priessman enjoyed similar success on floor. After 2011, she won or placed second on floor in every US competition she entered. On top of her incredible power, Priessman had great showmanship on the floor. She brought a great deal of energy and charisma to her performances. She brought that same energy to the rest of the competition, brightening the entire arena with her smile and positive attitude. Priessman culminated her junior career by winning the 2012 Junior National all-around and floor titles.

The gymnastics world awaited Priessman’s senior debut with much anticipation. After such a successful junior career, she was expected to be one of the USA’s top seniors in 2013. She came out with a bang, bringing a new, mature floor routine with an incredibly high level of difficulty.

But the rest of the story did not unfold as expected. Back in 2010, Priessman had dislocated her toe during training. Instead of having surgery, she spent the next few years training and competing with a toe held together mostly with tape. “My toe would pop out nonstop because I tore every ligament in it,” Priessman said in an interview with Pressbox, “I would lean to the ride side of my foot to try to protect my toe, and then I would start hurting the rest of my foot.”

Between the Secret US Classics and the P&G National Championships, the pain became too much for Priessman to continue training on without surgery. The surgery took her out of competition for the rest of the year, dashing her hopes of making the World Championship team. In October of 2013, she committed to LSU, however made it clear that she was continuing to pursue her Olympic dreams.

After rehabilitating her toe, Priessman made another huge decision and left Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy. Citing the need for a change, she left the gym where she had trained her entire career. She went to Perfection Gymnastics School to train with Enrique Trabanino, who had trained her at CGA when she was younger.

The start of 2014 seemed like it was a do-over, a time for Priessman to finally enter into the world of senior gymnastics and shine. Happy and ready to get back into things, she came to the 2014 Secret US Classics ready to compete. Then, in podium training, she injured her ankle. The injury once again required surgery, and took her out for the rest of the year.

Through her injuries, Priessman kept her spirits up. She often posted on social media with her positive perspective on life. “I’ve accomplished and learned more about myself through all these injuries then when I was healthy” she said on Instagram.

Determined towards her dreams of making the Olympics, Priessman continued training and rehabbing with plans of deferring her college scholarship until after the 2016 Olympics. However, yesterday, Priessman announced on instagram that she has decided to retire as an elite gymnast and head to college this fall.

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I wanted to take the time personally to let all of you know I have chosen to head to college in the fall. As you know the last two years for me as an athlete has been extremely difficult with all the injuries I have been going through. I have been working very hard in the gym everyday to get back to 100 percent to compete again. Unfortunately, I hit some bumps that I wasn’t planning on hitting. I thought about all of the adversity I have been through and as I always say God has a plan. I have decided to go to college in the fall and begin a new chapter in my life. I want all of you to know I cant be more grateful to have been a member of the USA National team for four years. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to travel the world and help our country win gold medals. I will miss all the training camps and the knowledge everyone has taught me but more importantly help me become the young lady I am today. I am so happy with my elite career and how it went, but now it’s time to move on and make some amazing memories in college gymnastic 💜 #GEAUXTIGERS

With her team attitude, charisma and incredible talent level, Priessman will be a welcome addition to LSU and college gymnastics.

USAG Announces the Pan American Games Training Squad


USA Gymnastics announced the eight gymnasts named to the 2015 Pan American Games training squad. Nia Dennis of Buckeye Gymnastics, Madison Desch of GAGE, Rachel Gowey of Chow’s Gymnastics, Felicia Hano of Gym-Max, Amelia Hundley of Cincinnati, Lauren Navarro of Gliders, Emily Schild of Everest and Megan Skaggs of Gymnastics Academy of Atlanta. Navarro was also added to the womens National Team.

Five gymnasts will represent the USA in the women’s artistic gymnastics competition at the games in Toronto, July 11-15. The members of the training squad will spend the rest of the month at their home gyms putting the final touches on their competition routines. They will return on June 29 for the final selection camp to determine the five-member team.

Each and every international competition is an opportunity for the gymnasts to both gain experience and prove themselves to Marta Karolyi and the US women’s team selection committee. The forming of this team is a careful balance of sending gymnasts who will best represent the US, while giving opportunities for other gymnasts to gain experience in an international competition and prove that they can contribute on a world stage. Some of the USA’s top veteran gymnasts are not represented on this team for this reason.

The Pan American Games run from July 10-26. The artistic gymnastics competitions will include an all-around, team and individual apparatus competitions. The US is sending gymnasts to compete in all forms of gymnastics, including men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics, trampoline, and rhythmic gymnastics. Schedules of competition and more information can be found on http://www.toronto2015.org.

June National Team Camp – Pan Am Training Team To Be Selected


This month’s National Team Training Camp include’s the initial selection for the team who will represent the USA at the Pan American Games (to be held in Toronto from July 10-26). The five day camp ran this week at the Karolyi Ranch, and will culminate in the announcement of the eight-woman training squad for the games today at 1pm EST. The members of that squad will return at the end of the month, for the final selection camp to determine the five-member team.

Training session at the June National Team Camp. Photo via USA Gymnastics.

The gymnasts attempting to be be named to the Pan Am training squad spent the week finalizing the construction of their routines, and verifying these almost full routines with the National Team coaches. They also worked on continuing to refine their execution and artistry and testing their physical abilities. They will spend the rest of the month training at their home gyms to come back with full competition ready routines for the selection camp.

Victoria Nguyen, Aly Raisman and Norah Flatley hanging out at camp. “My girls 💗” via Aly Raisman Twitter

The seniors in attendance who are not vying for the squad, as well as all of the juniors are at a different phase in their training. They only verified half routines, wanting to peak at full routine competition readiness closer to the National Championships. They also worked on execution and artistry, as well as physical abilities testing.

Aly Raisman and Simone Biles at camp. Photo via Aly Raisman Twitter

The camp is headlined by five members of the gold medal winning 2014 U.S. Women’s World Team: Alyssa Baumann of WOGA; Simone Biles of World Champions Centre; Madison Desch of Great American Gymnastics Express; Kyla Ross of Gym-Max; and MyKayla Skinner of Desert Lights. Ashton Locklear of Everest and Madison Kocian of WOGA are still recovering from injury and was not in attendance. 2012 Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman of Brestyan’s American Gymnastics is also at the camp, however Gabby Douglas had a slight foot injury and did not attend, but is expected to return at the end of the monthaccording to USA Gymnastics Facebook Page. Those not in attendance will have the opportunity to petition on to the training squad.

The complete camp roster is:

Alyssa Baumann, WOGA
Simone Biles, World Champions Gym
Jordan Chiles, Naydenov
Madison Desch, GAGE
Christina Desidero, Parkettes
Nia Dennis, Buckeye
Norah Flatley, Chow’s Gymnastics
Jazmyn Foberg, MG Elite
Margzetta Frazier, Parkettes
Rachel Gowey, Chow’s Gymnastics
Felicia Hano, Gym-Max
Lauren Hernandez, MG Elite
Amelia Hundley, Cincinnati
Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, Brandy Johnson
McKenna Kelley, Stars Gymnastics
Bailie Key, Texas Dreams
Lauren Navarro, Gliders
Victoria Nguyen, Chow’s Gymnastics
Maggie Nichols, Twin City Twisters
Abby Paulson, Twin City Twisters
Grace Quinn, Texas Dreams
Aly Raisman, Brestyan’s
Kyla Ross, Gym-Max
Emily Schild, Everest Gymnastics
Polina Shchennikova, TIGAR
Megan Skaggs, Gymnastics Academy of Atlanta
MyKayla Skinner, Desert Lights
Ragan Smith, Texas Dreams
Deanne Soza, Arete