Games on the minds for gymnasts in Doha
DOHA (QAT) March 28, 2012: London Olympic Games will be on the minds of the participants at the 5th World Cup of Artistic Gymnastics beginning at Aspire Academy today.
Britain’s Elizabeth ‘Beth’ Kimberly Tweddle joins Olympic champions from China Zou Kai and Jiang Yuyuan, Ireland’s rising star Kieran Behan, Romania’s Catalina Ponor and China’s Yuyuan JIANG at the three-day championship.
Ali Al Hitmi, President of Qatar Gymnastics Federation (QGF), said nearly 240 particpants representing 31 countries – including Britain’s Tweddle – will compete at the three-day event.
“Taking part in the Olympic Games is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. And the next one happens to be on our home soil. So for most British gymnasts, every event like this one in Doha, is a stepping-stone towards qualifying for a berth at the London Games,” Tweddle said yesterday.
The Briton, who is a three-time world champion having won the 2010 World Championships and 2006 World Championships on the uneven bars and the 2009 World Championships on the floor, will take part in the uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercises.
Ireland’s Behan, who ranked 4th in London 2012 Test Event Floor Apparatus final with a score of 14.900, said: “I am using this event to prepare for the World Championships to be held in China next week. This is a very important championship for all of us preparing for that event and then the London Games.”
The Irish artistic gymnast, who will compete in the floor exercises, added: “My aim here is to go and try a new routine and try to do a clean job. I want to try new things so let’s see how it goes.”
Despite this being the Games year, Romania’s Ponor is not overawed by the challenges ahead.
“I always try to remain calm and composed, That’s the way I am,” Ponor said with a smile. “I am trying to be in a good shape for my events. I want to be in the shape I was in 2004,” the 24-year-old added.
Ponor will contest the balance beam and the floor events.
Yuyuan, the 2008 Chinese all-around senior National Champion and a member of the gold medal-winning team at the 2008 Summer Olympics, said: “We are preparing for the Olympic Games. We take every event seriously. We work very hard. We will do the same here. It will be difficult.” Yuyuan will compete in the balance beam, floors exercises and the uneven bars.
Linlin, a member of the Chinese team that won the team gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, is a three-time World Cup gold medallist. She was the 2009 world champion and the current national champion on balance beam.
Qatar will be represented by six gymnasts, four boys and two girls, Al Hitmi said.
He confirmed that Qatari gymnasts will be joined by players from Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia and Kuwait.
“The Qatar Gymnastics Federation is proud to be hosting so many great gymnasts for this event,” Al Hitmi said.
“With the attendance of more than 117 gymnasts from around 31 countries, once again, this big event will host the names that matter in gymnastics.
“I’m sure that fans will enjoy this world-class competition and encourage our national gymnasts and support them this week,” he added.
Qatar’s Wohdan Shaden, who won five medals at the Arab Games held in Doha in December, said: “We are looking to gain experience from this event. I am slowly recovering from an ankle injury so I hope I can do a decent job. I will be competing in the balance beam competition.”
BY RIZWAN REHMAT – THE PENINSULA