Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Benefits of Putting Your Child in Gymnastics

Many parents struggle with which sport to enroll their child in. Soccer? Hockey? Basketball? Tennis? Swimming? When the child is still so young and unable to actually TELL you what they want to try out, choosing a sport can definitely be a challenge. Since gymnastics is televised much less than other mainstream sports, perhaps parents are failing to see how much this sport can actually benefit their child. Below is a list of reasons why gymnastics is awesome:

1) It’s Great Exercise: Obviously. Gymnastics requires an enormous amount of intensity and endurance. They are amongst the most flexible of all athletes, which in turn, leads to fewer injuries. It also improves balance and agility. Athletes also tend to develop more upper body strength than any other sport.

2) There are High Cognitive Benefits: Research suggests that there is a strong correlation between physically fit children and high academic performance. Physical exercise encourages healthy brain function and development. Also, the sheer amount of coordination that this sport requires only makes the brain stronger.

3) It’s Super Fun: Not only is this sport amazingly exciting for kids, but it’s also amazingly exciting for parents! Think about how exhausted children will be after jumping, swinging, running, bouncing, tumbling, flipping and leaping all over the place! They will practically be begging for a nap when they get home! You’re welcome, parents.

4) It’s Great for the Little Ones: Gymnastics caters best to the smallest and lightest athletes, which is great when so many sports cater to tall/big athletes (hockey, basketball, rugby).

5) It’s Loved by Ladies, Gentleman, Boys and Girls: This sport is constantly one of the most watched events at the Olympic Games. Why? Because there are so many events in gymnastics that no one ever gets bored. In artistic gymnastics, events for girls include: the vault, the uneven bars, the balance beam and the floor. For boys, the events include: the floor, the pommel horse, the still rings, the vault, the parallel bars and the high bar. Let’s not forget that there is also rhythmic and acrobatic gymnastics, along with trampolining and tumbling. If a parent is going to invest in a sport, at least there’s variety in it.

All in all, gymnastics is a great sport to involve your child in. To see if it is something that they would be interested in, perhaps you could show them some videos found on the FIG YouTube Channel. I’m sure they will be begging you in no time.

By: Kayla Robinson

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I’ll Have What The Gymnast Is Having!

When you travel and visit another country, you take the time to observe the things that differ from home; the way people live, the trends, the food, etc. I’ve come to realize that sometimes, those differences actually show us how similar we are. All the recent gymnastics content triggered a memory from almost twelve years ago.

In the summer of 2000, I took a trip to the Philippines to visit my family. Travelling to my home country always means lots of food, shopping and heat! It is the time when I can enjoy the Filipino products I love for a few weeks. One morning, I was having breakfast with my sister and made myself a cup of Milo’s hot chocolate to go with a piece of fresh bread. Milo is a chocolate beverage from Nestle that is sold in the Asian market. While I sipped into my delicious drink, I couldn’t help but stare at the product’s packaging. Other than its bright green color, I noticed the gymnast on the front of the package. What my younger self did not know then, is that Milo is also what Filipino athletes drink to energize themselves. Milo is composed of a nutritious formula, supports Filipino athletes, and also believes in development. They are known as the Official Energy Drink of the Philippines Team and are committed to building champions in sports and in life.

On FIG’s website, they explain the importance of sports for our lifestyle. Milo shows the same belief, but with a nutritional perspective. A lot of young children drink Milo. Not only are they getting the nutrition Milo has to offer, but they are exposed to sports and athletes, including Filipino gymnasts Bea Lucero and Nica Calapatan, through their packaging and TV commercials. In addition, a few years ago, Milo released seven limited edition 20g sachets you can collect with instructions for different gymnastic moves. Milo doesn’t only give children a nutritious beverage, but encourages them to learn and practice sports as well. The television ad for this particular campaign is clever (but also cheesy just like every other Filipino commercial LOL).  It starts off with two kids running to the corner store and asking for a pack of Milo. The vendor asks the kids “Which one would you like?” She then performs a starting position, a cartwheel and a finishing pose saying “This one? This one? Or this one?” Because there are seven different ones to collect, she is asking them which gymnastic move they wish to have, not by naming them, but by performing the actual move. Here is the link to the commercial (Warning: it is in Tagalog):

Thinking back on my breakfast memory made me realize that, although countries have cultural differences, they also have certain similarities. Whether through Milo from the Philippines and Asia or Wheaties cereal from America, the importance of children being healthy, physically and nutritionally, is seen across cultures. Let’s raise our Milo glasses and toast to all the gymnasts setting an amazing example to the children out there!

By: Jayka Parial  

Sui Strikes Gold on the Beam

Since the 2011 Tokyo Artistic Gymnastics World Championships have come to an end, I’m sure everyone is still talking about some of the most amazing acts and top performers in the championships. Since one of my favourite categories to watch is the balance beam, I thought it would be great to have a quick look back at the overall winner of the balance beam category (and one of my favourite athletes!), given a score of 15.866 and a shiny gold medal, Sui Lu of China!

Sui Lu is only 19 years old, but she can rock the balance beam with grace. Starting gymnastics at the young age of three, Sui Lu has formed a name for herself. She is known to be a specialist and one of the biggest threats to her competition on the balance beam, winning medals in countless competitions. Just watching her videos amazes me, I mean does doing back flips, cartwheels, and handstands on the balance beam seem easy to you?? If so, it’s probably because you are competing in these world championships yourself. But to me and all you other non-flexible people out there, it looks really tough and probably requires a lot of hard training. From watching many of her performances we can see that Sui Lu is not afraid to try some of the most difficult moves, which is why she is always able to outshine her competitors. She has great concentration, her performance looks effortless and her technique is on point. 

Not only is Sui Lu known to be great on the balance beam, but she is known to have strength on the floor exercise category as well. In the competition she ranked 2nd place with a score of 15.066, right under Afanaseva Kseniia from Russia, who scored 15.133, claiming the gold medal. 
With many future competitions to come, I am sure I will be seeing Sui Lu rank in the #1 position again and wow the judges with her amazingly difficult moves, as she is known for. If you would like to get more information on the latest athletes (including Sui Lu), events, pictures, and videos, be sure to LIKE the FIG fan page, check them out on twitter, visit their youtube channel, and lastly visit their website!! Stay in touch with gymnastics with FIG! 

By: Pamela Petkovic

What's next for FIG?

Now that the 43rd Artistic Gymnastic World Championships have come to and end, we know that you gymnastics fanatics are waiting franticly to see what’s coming next! Rest assured, the organization has actively started to put forth the Trampoline and Tumbling World Championships 2011 happening in Birmingham this year from the 18th to the 20th of November 2011.  STICKITTOTHEMAT team had the amazing opportunity of following the numerous events happening in Tokyo but we are ready to be your official source for all the UK final scores, athletes’ features and breath-taking opening and closing ceremonies!

What is the exact difference between these two competitions? Well, first off, the categories are completely different. As the names say for themselves, the Tokyo competition was all about the artistic side featuring professional in vault, uneven bars and beams. This time around, the focus will be on trampoline, tumbling and DMT disciplines. 

Still not impressed?  Did you know that the trampoline discipline made its introduction during the 2000 Sidney Olympic Games and is considered to be a training tool for many other sports such as diving and freestyle skiing?  This newly added sport is known to be extremely agile and difficult, as it requires trampolinists to reach heights of 10 meters while performing stunts and twists! On the other hand, tumbling is known to be a lot more dynamic and extreme. A discipline that will make your heart stop beating for a second.  What happens is that the gymnast takes a leap of faith after gaining fast speed through a sprint. They then perform double, sometimes triple saults. Fun fact: this discipline has become extremely popular among toddlers and has inspired numerous kids to consider Olympics as their long-term achievement goal. Last but not least, DMT stands for double-mini trampoline and can be seen as a combination of both tumbling and trampoline. The combination is extremely dynamic and is captivating for the audience.

Hopefully, this small introduction to the upcoming Birmingham competition gets you as excited as we are! Keep us posted on what you think about these disciplines and show us your excitement on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube by following the above-mentioned links.

By: Anna Vinitskaia

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The 43rd Artistic Gymnastics World Championship

This annual competition, the most important elite gymnastics event in every non-Olympic year, returned to Japan for the first time since it was first staged there in 1995. It took place in the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, where the 1964 Summer Olympics took place, from October 7 through October 16. The latest update to the entry list featured a total of 532 competitors (288 men and 244 women) from 80 different countries, with 24 teams in both the men’s and the women’s competition, all of whom qualified at the 2010 World Championships in Rotterdam.
The competition was fierce, especially since the team events in Tokyo determined participation for the 2012 Olympic Games, with the top eight qualifying directly for London and those finishing in 9-16 going through to the Olympic test event in January that will serve as a second Olympic qualifier.
This year clearly illustrated that gymnastics is a sport where fans can expect the unexpected, although the first day of event finales went mainly according to plan. Day two was far more interesting and controversial, but it wouldn't be Worlds without some surprises. Here's what fans are likely to be talking about for awhile:
The surprise winner on floor. Ksenia Afanasyeva has been a strong figure on the Russian team for years. She's the kind of gymnast that comes through with clutch routines when a team medal is on the line, but who seems to collapse when it’s for herself. But as the last gymnast to compete in the individual final for floor, Afanasyeva nailed one of the best routines of her career to trouble leader Sui Lu. It was a controversial win because she had some small hops landing her tumbling, while Sui virtually had none.
Viktoria Komova on beam. The young Russian fell on her double turn in event finals, her second fall in four beam routines at this World Championships. Most agree that she was not at full strength after months of recovery from an ankle surgery this year. This meet is likely to raise concerns about her hardiness going into the Olympic year.
Phan Thi Ha Thanh on vault. The newcomer from Vietnam stunned when she shook defending World bronze medalist Jade Barbosa for third on vault. It was quite a step forward for Vietnamese gymnastics, as Phan was competing without the support of a team at this World Championships, and earned her country its first ever World medal.
Brazilians’ Leap. Arthur Zanetti, after landing fourth place on rings at the 2009 Worlds and being out of the 2010 competition due to an injury, showed the resilience on the rising Brazilian men's team by taking silver on rings with a remarkable routine that nearly challenged the dominance of China's Chen Yibing. In the meantime on floor, two-time World floor champion Diego Hypolito, also recovering from injury, earned bronze.
Jordyn Wieber on bars. Although she didn't take home a medal on this event, the new World champion scored a personal victory by hitting the only routine she didn't perform to her standard in the all-around final. Wieber topped her Worlds with a bronze medal on beam and finished sixth on floor, making her the most successful of a very successful U.S. women's team as the event came to an end.

By: Marie-Josee Blanchet

Gymnastics Cartwheeling Over To Social Media

Over the years, we, as a society, have started getting glued to our phones, laptops and other technological devices. Soon after this technological shift, a new and innovative form of socialization surfaced, social media. Sites like Facebook and Twitter came into the world and allowed new ways for people to communicate, share interests, news and stories. For most, social media eases rapid communication between loved ones and friends close to you and across the globe. For others, it is a way to get their name out there, as well as build a community of people with similar interests and allowing them to share their passion with one another. This is what the oldest international sport organization FIG had in mind when it decided to enter the world of this new revolution of video sharing, hashtags, and likes, also known as Social Media. Let’s see what happened when these two teamed up!

Currently, FIG has a Facebook page, Twitter account and a YouTube channel. Currently, 5,190 people like their Facebook page, they have 2,427 followers on Twitter and 4,247 viewers are subscribed to their YouTube channel, including over 3.2 million upload views. All three accounts, particularly Facebook, allow gymnastics enthusiasts to share their love for the sport by posting different elements, such as pictures, comments, videos, etc. These platforms keep fans engaged by constantly updating, replying to their audience’s posts, and even inviting them to participate in activities. Here are two fun examples of social media events that FIG recently held involving the recent Gymnastics World Championships in Tokyo:

On October 13, professional gymnast Nastia Liukin was tweeting live from the WC in Tokyo on FIG’s Twitter page. She was commenting and giving updates on the events taking place that day. Having a professional live tweeting like this is very exciting, especially for gymnastic fans because it makes them feel closer to the athletes. #winning!

After the World Championships in Tokyo ended, on FIG’s Facebook page, they asked their fans to post their favorite picture and video from the event and explaining why. This activity is a great way to keep your fans engaged because not only are they being exposed to FIG’s amazing content, but enthusiasts get the chance to express and share their love for this sport. Now that’s a reason to click on that Like button!

Social media helps bring people from all over the globe together. In addition, it brings us news and stories faster than ever before. This is the case for FIG, who definitely tackled this new world with grace. With its entertaining content and engaging methods, FIG’s fans will surely keep coming back for more, as well as attracting new people to its different social media platforms. Let’s come together along with FIG to share our love for the sport of gymnastics. One World, One Passion. Come Like, Follow and Subscribe!

Visit all 3 FIG sites:

Jayka Parial, October 19, 2011