Brenna Dowell: I Moved On Part 2

6:58 PM Arabian Punch Front 1 Comments

Photo Credit: USA Gymnastics

Part 2 of the interview with Brenna Dowell. If you missed Part 1, it can be found here.

A lot of people aren't doing front tumbling on floor anymore but you have the double front pike. How was training that?
In level 10, I competed just a double front. I always liked front tumbling better than back tumbling because you never had any short landings so, for some reason, I just didn't like to do back tumbling so I always shifted towards front tumbling. So, Al always has all these crazy ideas for the next steps and next big skills, so once I mastered the double front, I just tried the double pike. That was the next step and I still had a lot more gymnastics to go so I just tried and was able to do it so I put it in my routines.

Have you ever tried the double front 1/2 out (Podkopayeva)?
Yeah, I've done double front and double pike 1/2 but mostly just into the resi so I've never done it on hard surfaces but I've definitely trained it a couple times.

Is it something you would ever add to your floor routine?
It would depend on where I would put it in my routine and if I could get it consistent. So it would definitely be a skill for the future.

Are you thinking of doing a second vault?
Yes, I've been training it off and on for a while. Al always says that he wants to get my 2 1/2 good and consistent and if that's not good, there's no point in working a second vault. I'm definitely working on improving my 2 1/2 and occasionally working a 2nd one so it's definitely in the back of my mind. I've been working [Yurchenko] 1/2 on - so right now, I can do a 1/2 on, layout 1/2 off but it's in the works.

What gymnasts did you look up to when you were younger?
I looked up to Terin Humphrey and Courtney McCool because they were the Olympians and they were in my gym. When I was in compulsory and level 5 and 6, they were still training and working for the Olympics so I definitely looked up to them. Then, when I got older, I looked up to my teammate Rebecca Clark. She was on the National Team and we were always in her group and she always had really good things to say. She'd always help us when we were having trouble so she was definitely my biggest role model.


Brenna Dowell: I Moved On

6:56 PM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

Photo Credit: USA Gymnastics

Brenna Dowell is an American gymnast that has slowly but surely been climbing the ranks to become one of the top gymnasts in the USA. Brenna first represented the USA at the Pan American Games in 2010, the same year she also made her first National team. She had a great showing in her senior debut, finishing 9th in the all around at 2012 US Nationals and qualifying to Olympic Trials. Later in 2012, Dowell had individual international success at the 2012 Mexico Open in Acapulco where she won the all around title. In 2013, Dowell continued to shine as she finished 3rd in the all around and uneven bars and 5th on floor exercise at 2013 US Nationals. After camp, Brenna Dowell earned a spot on the 4-member World Championship team but was designated as alternate shortly before the competition started. Since then, she has taken time to recuperate and is back ready for the challenges she may face in 2014.

How did you first get started in gymnastics?
When I was little, I had 2 older sisters and they were both cheerleaders and they needed to learn how to do a back handspring. My mom was looking for a place to teach them and she found GAGE. They went to the back handspring clinic and she put me in a class. So, I've been at GAGE since I was 18 months.

How far did you get in the JO system and when did you qualify for elite?
I did Level 9 and made it to Westerns and then I did Level 10 and made it to Nationals where I placed 2nd. It was a lot of fun there. Then, I qualified for elite that summer [2009] and went to the CoverGirl Classic and Championships and got 19th. Then, the next year, I made the National Team.

How would you describe Al Fong and Armine Barutyan Fong as coaches?
They're really good coaches! They always have a lot of drills to fix all the things you need to correct with your skills. Al always thinks of crazy things to do and fun things to work. Armine's really good at dance and flexibility and improving all of that stuff. They're really good coaches.

Did skills come easily for you?
I always had a lot of energy and a lot of power so I would always be really brave and I was always the first person to go for things. But I always had to work really had to get everything. When I was younger, I had a really good group and we all pushed each other.

Can you talk about the lead up to Olympic Trials and what your goals were for 2012?
2012 was my first year as a senior. It was my goal in the beginning to make it to Italy and compete. I did that and was happy with that. My next goal was to do as good as I could do and make it to Olympic Trials and hit 8-for-8 and go out there with no regrets and do the best I could do and whatever happened would happen.

Did your mentality change at all between 2011 and now as far as skill progressions? Was there anything you had to tell yourself to gain confidence?
Well, I always like to just go into the gym and have fun and just enjoy myself. I think it was just a time that everything started coming together. I got to try some new skills and add some difficulty to everything... I kept working hard and everything just started to click.

Let's talk about 2013 and the lead up to Nationals.
2013 was a really important and cool year. After Mexico in 2012, the Acapulco meet, it definitely boosted my confidence from there and I knew that I could do well. In 2013, in Italy, I got 3rd and that was definitely a big confidence booster. Going into Classics and Championships, my goal was to get in the top 3 and I was able to do that at both meets so that was exciting. It was just a lot of hard work in the gym and making sure that I gave it my all. Then, my goal was to make it to Worlds and compete but that didn't happen but I'm still happy and I didn't have any regrets.


African Gymnastics Update

12:36 PM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

South African gymnast Kirsten Beckett, ran in the Queen's Baton Relay on February 13th. Similar to the Olympic Torch Relay, the Queen's Baton Relay is held prior to the Commonwealth Games which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland in 2014. Beckett received the torch from Luvoyo Mandela, great grandson of late South African revolutionary Nelson Mandela, just before a Madiba statue (above). She was recently interviewed by BBC and the documentary should be available on BBC Worldwide on Wednesday.
More photos ; APF Interview with Kirsten Beckett

The 12th African Gymnastics Championships are to be held in Tshwane, South Africa on March 24-30 of 2014. The South African Gymnastics Federation is busy organizing for the event. There is an African Gymnastics Championships account on youtube posting great videos that include athlete profiles, gym profiles, and information about the different events. They also provide some behind the scene footage - like the making of the 2014 calendar that is a big source of advertisement - as well as a 12th AGC Trailer (below).

Nicole Szabo represented South Africa at the 2013 World Championships after flying far from family and friends and starting her freshman year at the University of Illinois - Chicago. She is an asset to the UIC team on uneven bars, beam, and floor with her best score being a 9.825 on the uneven bars. Here she is scoring a 9.775 at Chicago Style on February 7.

Egypt is hosting their qualification for the AGC this week. Brestyan gymnast and future Rutgers gymnast Aya Mahgoub is in Egypt hoping to earn a spot on the team.


Stay Strong Lais Souza

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Lais Souza is an Olympic gymnast from Brazil who had hopes of becoming Brazil's first attendee at the Winter Olympics in freestyle skiing. She was injured in an accident on January 27th dislocating a part of her cervical spine and damaging the nerves to her diaphragm. Souza is awake and is able to nod to respond to questions but is on a ventilator to assist in breathing. At the latest reports, "Souza underwent surgery to realign her spine and can now move her shoulders and two more operations are scheduled." (source).

Lais Souza attended both the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. She helped Brazil to a 9th place finish in 2004 and helped them to make the team finals in 2008. Souza competed on vault and unenven bars as the Brazilian team finished 8th in the final.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Lais Souza and her loved ones.



Ellen DeGeneres Wins at Gymternet Throwback Thursday

12:59 PM Arabian Punch Front 1 Comments

Comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres had an excellent tweet for last week's #tbt.

Shannon Miller responded:

It's funny to see what some of the other Olympic gymnasts said

Happy Throwback Thursday!