Flipping Out

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My Blog On Gymnastike!

Posted by garymcuesta on June 6, 2011


Visit my new blog at gymnastike.org! I will be writing a weekly opinion blog that will be published every Wednesday evening. Comment, like it, tell me what you think!

See you there!

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Pulzhnikov Wins Rings At Euros

Posted by garymcuesta on April 26, 2011

"AP Photo"

BERLIN – Konstantin Pulzhnikov of Russia won gold on the still rings at the European Championships last week.

Pulzhnkov scored a 15.850 in a close fought battle. Pulzhnikov’s teammate, Aleksandr Balandin, came in a close second winning the silver with a 15.775. Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece won the bronze with a 15.675.

This concluded day 1 of the apparatus finals. Day 2 will host the remaining 3 apparatuses for the men and the 2 remaining for the women.

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Berki’s Pommels Are Golden At Euros

Posted by garymcuesta on April 26, 2011

"Getty Images"

BERLIN – Krisztian Berki of Hungary won pommel horse at the European Championships with a score of 15.625.

Considered to be the balance beam of men’s artistic gymnastics, scores where diverse due to the challenge of the apparatus and the struggle to create as much difficulty to receive a high start difficulty.

Silver was won by Cyril Tommasone of France with a  15.050 and the bronze to Harutyum Merdinyan of Armenia with a 14.950.

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Class Speaker: Julie Ward

Posted by garymcuesta on April 26, 2011


FAIRFAX – In the world of sports journalism, the group left behind may be some of the best that have ever touched pen to paper.

It seems that this is often the case for groups who try to break the mold. The ones who make themselves noticed when others don’t want to pay attention.

This group is women.

Former sports editor for USA Today, Julie Ward, spoke to professor Steve Klein’s Sports Writing and Reporting class at George Mason University on Thursday. She spoke of the trails and tribulations that women have faced not only as sports journalist, but just as journalist. Beat writers, style sections and politics just to name a few.

“There was a meeting in the news room when I looked around and noticed I was the only women there”, said Ward.

Indeed, times may have changed since the 1970s, but not so much that the foot print of inequitably has worn away.

“Many women still face challenges.” said Ward.

Perhaps the most dis-concerning point Ward made was the dwindling numbers of female sports journalist. At one publication, out of a staff of sixty five writers, only 5 are women. At another, out of ten, there is 1.

Even with the disappoint of how women are treated in the sport’s journalism world, Ward offered hope to anyone who belongs to a group that often gets left behind.

“Don’t stop. Make it happen. Just because someone says it can’t be done doesn’t mean you should stop trying.”

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Breaking The Surface

Posted by garymcuesta on April 21, 2011

Greg Louganis.

Many images come to mind when that name is mentioned. The most common would be Louganis’ dive at the 1988 Seoul Olympics Games. But what is more amazing is the path he had to take to be the best diver in U.S history.

In his autobiography Breaking the Surface, Louganis, along with Eric Marcus, tell the incredible life story of a man who had to overcome much more than the pride of fame.

Louganis was born on January 29, 1960. Adopted as a child by a Greek-American couple, Louganis grew up in El Cajon, California. From a young age, he had to face prejudicebecause of his darker skin. He was taunted at school by other children. He was made to be the outcast because of it. He also struggled with the reality of being adopted. This did not help his feelings of not belonging.

He also suffered with dyslexia which was diagnosed late into his childhood. It was something he tried to hide. It was something he tried to deal with. For all that he had gone through as a child into his adolescence, what he next discovered about himself was what would divine him the sport he loved.

Louganis found sanctuary at the pool, or above it, as it were. He took an interest in diving as a child and he was hooked after his first couple of lessons. He found safety in the space between the board and the water from the taunting and the struggle of his early life. But there was one thing that he could not hide from.

During his adolescence, Louganis realized he was gay. He struggled to accept himself in a time when it was not easy to be out and proud if at all. He had to hide his secret for a long time.

As an adult, his lover tested positive for AIDS after they were together for six year. This prompted Louganis to get tested as well. He was diagnosed with HIV just months before the Summer Olympics in Soul were his life would change forever.

During the preliminary diving competition, Louganis hit his head on the spring board. He suffered a laceration on his head, resulting in blood going into the pool and onto the deck. His personal coach knew Louganis was HIV positive. However, no one else one the U.S diving knew. The incident forced him to come out about not only being gay but admitting to being HIV positive when the world still did not know or understand much about the disease.

This is what the book does do well. It truly ties together the struggles Louganis had to go through to get where he is today. It does it in a personal way that makes it seem as if Louganis is having a conversation with you. It is personal, deep and painfully honest. He is not afraid to take his life story to paper and let the world do as it want with it. Nothing is left out and nothing is unexplored.

When it would have been easy to write a book that kept Louganis’ personal life above the surface, he broke it.

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Mason’s Athletic Director Speaks To Mason Students

Posted by garymcuesta on April 16, 2011

"Mason Athletics"

There are many misconceptions when it comes to athletics at any level.

There are stereotypes about student athletes that many echo. Athletes are stupid. They are spoiled. They aren’t really students. How could they be typical college students with a free ride? No worry of how to pay for classes, books or food. They have exceptions made for them. They can get out of classes early and sometimes don’t even have to go at all.

If anyone could have dispelled these stereotypes and rumors, it would be Tom O’Connor.

O’Conn0r has been George Mason University’s athletics director for the past 16 years. A native of Union City, New Jersey, O’Connor gradually made his way to George Mason. He was the athletics director at Loyola College from 1976 to 1986, Santa Clara University from 1986 to1992 and St. Bonaventure University from 1992 to 1994. O’Connor was also the head coach of Loyola and Dartmouth’s basketball teams.

When it would have been easy for a director to do “ra ra” speech about how great the athletics department is and how great its athletes are, O’Conner took a very different approach.

“I’m proud to be the athletics director at George Mason University.” says O’Connor. “That is what I say outside of Mason and at Mason.”

O’Connor is proud of all 22 sports teams that Mason has and does not speak harshly of any. If anything, there has never been a more inclusive tone set to a topic that could have turned into a one-sided conversation about one or two teams. But perhaps the most surprising part is what O’Connor feels is the most important aspect of athletic teams at Mason.

“We talk about quality and balancing the college experience, we rarely talk about winning.”

Wait. An athletics department that doesn’t put ninety percent of its energy in creating champions? One that feels it is more important to keep a balance where classes and GPAs should come first? It may seem to be the stuff of a perfect Utopian situation. But it is truly how the Mason Athletics Department operates according to O’Connor. “The front door of athletics should be academic.”

In what could be a world of win, win, win, the mantra is overwhelming have fun, fun, fun. “You have to have fun. In the departments of higher education, we are the toys department.”

O’Connor also instills what many may consider the more important ingredient for any sport at any level. There should always be fair and competitive play with the utmost respect for fellow athletes and coaches. “Our core value is sportsmanship, which can be violated by yelling at an official or testing for a substance for example. We do not accept this at Mason.” This also ties into the ideal situation of having a balance between playing fair at all times both on and off the field. “I rather have you as a coach or an administrator lose a game doing it the right way than win doing it wrong way.”

What does all of this have to do with how student athletes are treated an Mason? More than one might think. As it has been the entire time, the word of the day is “fair”.

“Yes, student athletes do receive certain privileges.” says O’Connor. “Their time-stamp for signing up for classes is a little earlier by maybe a week than non-student athletes. They have to manage their time differently because of practices and games. They need first priority. This also ties into them having to miss or leave classes early. They represent Mason. They have to perform.”

Are student athletes spoiled? Not in the traditional sense. Are student athletes given exceptions when it come to class attendance? Yes. Are these exceptions made out of care for the well being of the athletes? Absolutely. It is important to remember that when you take away the athlete, there is still a student there. One who wants to achieve in the classroom in order to achieve in life after college. They are like any other student.

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Koczi Wins Floor Gold At Euros

Posted by garymcuesta on April 14, 2011

"AFP Photo"

Berlin- Flavius Koczi of Romania won gold on the floor exercise this Saturday in close battle from Europe’s best male artistic gymnasts.

Koczi scored 15.500 for his routine which was worth 6.6, the second highest difficulty score behind Denis Ablyazin of Russia with 6.7. Ablyazin placed sixth.

Close behind Koczi was Alexander Shatilov of Israel with a 15.400 and Anton Golotsutskov of Russia with a 15.325. Philipp Boy of Germany, who won the men’s all around title, placed last in 8th with a score of 14.275.

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Izbasa Wins Women’s Vault Title At Euros

Posted by garymcuesta on April 13, 2011

"AP Photo"

Berlin- With Russian Aliya Mustafina out of the event finals with a torn ACL, Sandra Izbasa of Romania vaulted ahead of the rest to win gold on vault Saturday.

Izbasa, the reigning Olympic floor exercise champion, now adds another gold medal to her resume. Izbasa posted an average of 14.675. She performed a double twisting laid out Yurchenko and a round off, half on, layout with a half.

Izbasa beat out five time Olympian Oksana Chusovitina of Germany, the vault silver medalist from the Beijing Olympics, who averaged 14.537 and 2010 European vault champion Ariella Kaeslin of Sweden with an average of 14.475.

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Dementyeva and Boy Take All Around Gold At Euros

Posted by garymcuesta on April 12, 2011

"AFP Photo"

Berlin – At the 4th Annual Individual European Gymnastics Championships, it was a Russian and a German who showed they have what is takes to be the best gymnasts Europe has to offer.

Anna Dementyeva of Russia won the woman’s all around title with a combined score of 57.475, followed by Elisabeth Seitz of Germany with 56.700 and Elena Amelia Racea with of Romania with 56.000.

Philipp Boy of Germany won the men’s all around title with a combined score of 88.875, followed by Flavius Koczi of Romania with 88.825 and Daniel Purvis of Great Britan with 88.350.

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Mustafina Out of 2011 Worlds With ACL Injury

Posted by garymcuesta on April 12, 2011

"AP Photo"

Berlin – Alyia Mustafina of Russia tore her ACL on Friday at the European Championships. She will undergo surgery this week.

The injury occurred on vault. Mustafina performed a two and a half twisting laid out Yurchenko as her first event in the all around final. This is not a new vault for the gymnast as she has been performing it for a little over a year now. According to doctors, a torn ACL can take from six to eight months to recover from post surgery. This means the reigning world all around champion will be out of the 2011 worlds in October.

Only time will tell if the injury can be overcome and if this young athlete will be able to compete in top form again. If Mustafina wants a good omen, American gymnast Annia Hatch tore her ACL during podium training at that 2003 World Championships and was able to heal in time to compete at the 2004 Athens games almost exactly one year later. Hatch took home a team silver medal as well as silver on vault.

The bigger picture is what this means for the rest of the gymnastics world. Mustafina has the Midas touch. Every time she competed, she would win at least one gold medal if not several. With no chance of competing at worlds this year, the floor is now wide open. And those who before had only dreamed of standing atop the podium can now dream it possible.

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