Friday, 24 August 2012

Dan's Top 5: Olympic Edition

Dan's Top 5 is back, and this time it's two entries in one! Still caught up in the afterglow of the Olymics, Dan shares his Top 5 moments of the London 2012 Olympics and the Top 5 Olympics sports that he would like to try.

My Top 5 moments from the London 2012 Olympics:

1. GB Men's Gymnastics historic team Bronze
2. Beth Tweddle's Olympic Bronze on the Asymmetric Bars
3. Mo Farah's Gold in the 10000 meters
4. Mo Farah's Gold in the 5000 meters
5. Usain Bolts 200 meter Gold

My top 5 athletes that I watched and why:

1. Kristian Thomas - Gymnastics – purely because he was in the form of his life and I personally know just how hard and for how long he has trained to have a competition like he had.
2. Beth Tweddle – Gymnastics – Beth has won medals at every major event but an Olympic medal was one that always eluded her and I know just how much it means to her. 
3. Mo Farah – 10000 & 5000 metres – simply because Mo dominated two track events that have historically been owned by the African nations.
4. Usain Bolt – 100 & 200 metres – simply because Usain loves to talk the talk but he certainly knows how to walk the walk and boy did he silence his critics!!
Sir Chris Hoy – Kierin – if you ever needed to know how much a Gold medal means to an athlete then you only have to watch Chris Hoy winning his sixth Gold!

Until next time!

Cheers, Dan

Friday, 17 August 2012

Olympic round up

As the curtain falls on the London Olympics it also brings an end to my own gymnastics competition season, I will now take a couple of weeks off along with the rest of the GB gymnastics squad and top up on some much needed vitamin D in Egypt.

When I return to full training in early September my focus will then switch to improving my own routines to work alongside the new gymnastics code of points issued by the Federation of International Gymnastics (FIG). The sport of gymnastics is constantly changing and evolves with every Olympic cycle to include new skills & techniques which are then reflected in its code of points, by applying a difficulty value to new skills that have been developed by the gymnasts and by downgrading the value of older less demanding skills.

As part of my Olympic round up I thought I would share some of the moments that were special to me...

My top 5 moments:-

1.      GB Mens Gymnastics historic team Bronze
2.      Beth Tweddle's Olympic Bronze on the Asymmetric Bars
3.      Mo Farah's Gold in the 10000 metres
4.      Mo Farah's Gold in the 5000 metres
5.      Usain Bolts 200 metre Gold 

Watch out for more Olympics-related Top 5's coming up soon on my blog!

Cheers, Dan

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Olympic apparatus finals: Pbars and Hbar

Today is the last day of the Artistic Gymnastics and boy are we going to be in for a treat! Both the Parallel Bars and the High Bar finals are packed full of some of the top specialists on these apparatus including: Feng Zhe, Marcel Nguyen and Zhang Chenglong on the Pbars, and Epke Zonderland, Zou Kai and Zhang Chenglong on the spectacular High Bar. My top tips for today are Feng Zhe on the Pbars and Epke Zonderland on the High Bar.


1. First up was the current World Silver medallist Zhang Chenglong, who started with some massive skills but unfortunately a wrong hand placement on one of his under bar elements forced Zhang to part with the apparatus, scoring him a 13.808.
2. Next up was the Frenchman Hamilton Sabot, and a good result here would be a medal for the whole team as the French squad has suffered from so many injuries this year when they should have been challenging for at least four medals. Well, Hamilton got off to a flying start with a routine packed full of difficulty, and his execution was also very high, except for a couple of minor errors which meant he posted a score of 15.666.
3. Next up was my top tip, Feng Zhe, and boy he did not fail to impress! With possibly the most difficult routine of the championships, Feng executed it perfectly scoring a massive 15.966 - a score that will be almost impossible to beat.
4. Marcel Nguyen was up next and if any one knows how execute a Pbar routine then Marcel is your man. With a routine packed with difficulty, Marcel didn't let us down, executing his skills to perfection which scored him a massive 15.800 and placed him in second place.
5. Firth up was Daniel Corral Barron, a very talented All Around gymnast from Mexico who executed a difficult routine but lost a little bit of form mid-routine, scoring him 15.333.
6. Sixth up was Tsolakidis from Greece, who suffered a little on difficulty and execution and scored 15.300.
7. The next two gymnasts are the Japanese brothers Kazuhito and Yusuke Tanaka. Both are serious challengers for a medal and both have routines packed with difficulty, but unfortunately on this occasion neither executed to perfection, resulting in them scoring 15.500 and 15.100 respectively.
8. The last gymnast was the young Russian Emin Garibov who was always down a little on difficulty, but executed it very well scoring 15.300.

The final results were:
•    Gold – Feng Zhe
•    Silver – Marcel Nguyen
•    Bronze – Hamilton Sabot


The last apparatus in any championships is always the high octane High Bar; a real crowd pleaser that never fails to impress.

1. First up was the talented Danell Leyva, who under immense pressure from being first performed an excellent routine with some massive release and catch moves that left the crowd gasping, and scored himself a huge 15.833, forcing all the other gymnasts to perform their best routines.
2. Next was Zhang Chenglong looking to put his disappointment from the Pbar final behind him. He executed a routine that could just be the most difficult, posting a score of 16.266.
3. Third up was the young Russian Emin Garibov. In his 2nd final today but, as in the Pbar final, Emin was lacking a little difficulty and execution, so posted a score of 15.333. That said, he is certainly a name for the future.
4. If anyone could challenge Chenglong then it is the next gymnast and reigning Olympic Champion Zou Kai, who performed a routine with even more difficulty but lacked a little in execution. But he still scored a massive 16.366, pushing him to the top of the leader board. HOW COULD ANYONE BEAT THAT!
5. Step up Fabian Hambuchen from Germany, a real high bar specialist who has been suffering from a series of injuries since the Worlds in 2009, so it was really nice to see him back competing to his full potential and boy, did he impress! Even though his routine lacked a little in difficulty his execution was faultless, scoring him a massive 16.400 which propelled him to the top of the leader board with massive cheers from the crowd.
6. Next up was Epke Zonderland who really does have the most difficult routine in the world but as yet has failed to win a major championship due to his execution. NOT ON THIS OCCASION. If there is one routine you watch on YouTube then watch Epke's High Bar - it is truly unbelievable and gravity defying! Epke scored a massive 16.533 which should win him the Gold, I think!
7. Seventh up was Jonathon Horton who never fails to please the crowd with his great execution, but his routine is now just lacking too much difficulty, so he scored 15.466.
8. The final gymnast was Jihoon Kim who was always going to struggle challenging the leader board as his routine also lacked a little difficulty. He scored 15.133.

The medals went to:
•    Gold – Epke Zonderland
•    Silver – Fabian Hambuchen
•    Bronze – Zou Kai

And that brings an end to these championships, and what a championship! With success for the GB team and some of the best apparatus finals I have ever watched, I still believe that from my results posted this year then I would have definitely been challenging for four medals myself.

I can’t wait to get back into competition, bring on the European Championships!

Cheers, Dan

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Olympics apparatus finals day – 2 – Rings & Vault

Today we are in for a real treat with some true heavyweights appearing in both the rings & vault finals.


This is an apparatus that isn't normally filled with drama or excitement, but it is a pure spectacle of strength and it always leaves the audience in awe of the athletes as they demonstrate unthinkable feats of strength.

Today's final was no different and first up was the reigning Olympic champion Chen Yibing in possibly his last Olympics as he plans to become a children’s TV presenter in China. Chen really is unbelievable on rings and, if you failed to see it, I really do advise you to search his name on YouTube as you will not be disappointed. Today was no different, and Chen executed his routine flawlessly with immense difficulty posting a score of 15.800 setting down a very high marker for everyone else to beat.

Second up was Molinari from Argentina with good difficulty, but he suffered from execution so scored 14.733.

Third up was Ballandin, the first of two very strong Russians and one I had tipped to medal and boy did he impress! Another flawless routine, posting him a score of 15.666.

Fourth up was the 30 year old Italian veteran Morandi, who packed his routine with maximum difficulty scoring a massive 15.733, pushing himself into 2nd on the leader board.

Our hats really do need to be taken off for the next gymnast Iordan Iovtchev who, at 39 years old, has qualified for the Rings final in his 6th Olympics. If anyone deserves a medal it’s Jordan, but at 39 it was always going to be challenge to compete against a field where everyone is younger. Lacking a little bit of difficulty, Jordan executed a good routine scoring 15.108.

Sixth up was Tommy Ramos from Puerto Rico with maximum difficulty, but he lacked a bit in execution so scored 15.600.

Seventh up was the second young Russian, Dennis Ablyazin, who I tipped in my last blog as a future champion. He executed his routine perfectly but always lacked just a little in difficulty, but yet again a truly amazing score for him of 15.633.

The last competitor was Arthur Zanetti from Brazil who has also been tipped as a future champion. With a routine packed with maximum difficulty Arthur executed his routine flawlessly and left his coach in tears as the score flashed up 15.900 to claim Brazil's first ever Olympic gymnastics title, ahead of the games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.


With British interest from one of the Games’ favourite athletes Kristian Thomas, the Vault final was always going to be a crowd pleaser and boy did we get a final!! So far this has to be my favourite final as it was packed full of difficulty and possibly the highest execution of all the apparatus so far. Anyone watching must have been left gasping; I certainly was!!

1st up was Flavius Koczi, a World Silver medallist in 2009 with two Vaults of the highest difficulty but unfortunately on this occasion it lacked just a little in execution.

Next up was Kristian and, in a very noisy and packed O2 arena, he performed and executed one of the most difficult vaults in the world at the moment to score a massive 16.366. The crowd was going nuts!! Kris then stepped up for his 2nd vault which lacks a little in difficulty but we all know he can execute it perfectly. Unfortunately on this occasion Kris slightly under-rotated and stumbled back, scoring 14.700 to give an average of 15.533.

Third up was Botella with two vaults which lacked a little in difficulty but he executed them effortlessly, scoring an average of 15.866.

Next up was one of the favourites Igor Radivilov from Ukraine with two vaults of maximum difficulty and boy did he nail them to score an average of 16.316, pushing him to the top of the leader board.

Fifth up was the Russian Dennis Ablyazin – remember him – in his third final already, and only 20 years and two days old. Dennis executed two very difficult vaults, only his second vault was slightly more difficult than the first, scoring him an average of 16.399 which propelled him to the top of the leader board. He is fast becoming a crowd favourite.

Sixth up was Sam Mikulak from the USA who lacked a little bit in difficulty in his 2nd vault but his execution was brilliant, scoring an average of 16.050.

Seventh up was Enrique Sepulveda, a rising star from Chili - a nation not known for its gymnastics - but now appearing in his 2nd final of these championships. Enrique had possibly the highest execution value of both vaults but always lacks a bit in difficulty in his 2nd vault, to score an average of 16.183, pushing himself into 3rd position.

Last up was the young 18 year old from South Korea who, at this moment in time, performs the most difficult vault in the world and quite simply defies gravity – oh and his 2nd vault ain’t too bad either. Well, he executed both vaults almost perfectly, only suffering a large step on his most difficult, but even that failed to affect his final score as he scored an average of 16.533 to claim South Korea's first ever Gymnastics Olympic Gold.

Finally I don't normally report on the Women's competition in my blogs but on this occasion I really would like to send a massive congratulation to my team mate and close personal friend Beth Tweddle who executed a very difficult Bar routine to claim her first Olympic medal; the one medal that has eluded a very successful career that includes World and European titles.

Bring on the Pbars and Hbar!

Cheers, Dan

Monday, 6 August 2012

Olympic apparatus finals - Day 1 – Floor & Pommel Horse

Remember what I said last week: “can it really get any better than this”? Well, IT JUST DID!!!


With Kristian Thomas just missing out on a place in the Floor final, how could we possibly excite the 15,000+ home crowd?

Step up: Kai Zou, Kohei Uchimura, Denis Ablyazin, Thomas Sepulveda, Jacob Dalton, Alexander Shatilov, Flavius Koczi, and Marcel Nguyen. Now, these guys really are the heavyweights when it comes to Floor routines and I just knew it was even going to excite this hugely partisan crowd.

First up was the recently crowned All Around champion Kohei Uchimura, who executed a near perfect routine and set the standard for everyone else to follow, posting a huge score of 15.800.
Next up was the reigning Olympic champion Kai Zou with a routine packed full of difficulty and execution, posting a massive score of 15.933.
Third up was the new rising Russian star Denis Ablyazin, who at the age of 20 had the most difficult Floor routine of the competition and very nearly executed it perfectly, except for a few steps on his landings. Denis also posted a huge score of 15.800 but unfortunately was pushed into third position due to a lower execution score; watch out for this name in the future, he will be an Olympic champion.

Wow what a start! With only three gymnasts gone we were already possibly looking at the Olympic Floor medalists. In fact that is exactly how it finished: Gold, Silver and Bronze went to Kai Zou, Kohei Uchimura and Denis Ablyazin respectively. How to kill off the competition!


Before the gymnasts even entered the arena there was already a sense of anticipation and excitement building as the Pommel final would see Team GB represented by not one but two gymnasts. Louis Smith and Max Whitlock were set to go up against a field that included Krisztian Berki, the Hungarian Pommel specialist who has won every major title except for the Olympic title.

First up was Cyril Tommasone from France, the reigning World Silver Medallist, who started well and executed a difficult routine until an error in his dismount saw him marked down to score 15.141. Next up was Vid Hidvegi, a native Hungarian who used to study and train out of Leeds University, who also started very cleanly until a break in form forced him to part with the Pommel Horse, scoring 14.300.
Third up was Alberto Busnari from Italy who executed a well worked routine with lots of flare sequences, which always look good but sometimes lack value, only this time he nailed it to score 15.400 and moved to the top of the leader board.
Fourth up was our own Max Whitlock; Max has just come through the junior ranks and forced his way into the senior team for his first Olympics and boy did he impress!! Max executed a near faultless routine and posted a score of 15.600, propelling him straight to the top of the leader board. BAM!!
Fifth up was Krisztian Berki, with every major title in his pocket and certainly armed with the difficulty, but would he hold his nerve in what could possibly be his last Olympic Games to claim the only title that has eluded him? Well, he did just that!! In a near-perfect routine Krisztian posted a score of 16.066 that not only took him to the top of the leader board, but it could also possibly force our own Louis Smith to attempt his and the world’s most difficult routine.
Sixth up was the Ukranian Vitalii Nakonechnyi who lacked a little bit of difficulty but also made a few small errors, scoring 14.766.
Seventh up, and possibly the only other gymnast that could prevent our own Max Whitlock from claiming a medal, was the Russian David Belyavskiy. Unfortunately again David was lacking a little bit of difficulty and execution and posted a score of 14.733, leaving Max with at least a Bronze medal – C'MON!
Last up was team GB's highest profile gymnast Louis Smith, who was looking to upgrade the Bronze medal he won in Beijing. With the weight of the 15,000+ crowd and a nation that was expecting Gold, Louis stepped up to the podium very composed. There was only one question unanswered: which routine would he opt for? Lou started brilliantly - very tidy with really nice lines, but it would be the one handle work that would tell us whether Louis had opted for his most difficult routine by performing the single, double or triple Russian Lever. Well it was the double! Not quite his most difficult routine, but it is still one of the best in the world and he NAILED IT! Lou went through the rest of his routine effortlessly, punching the air in belief after his dismount. The crowd was going absolutely nuts, and everyone was looking up at the huge scoreboard anticipating a mammoth score and Gold. 16.066 flashed up, the exact same score as Krisztian Berki, and for a moment the crowd cheered with excitement before everyone's aspirations were quashed when cruelly Louis was placed into 2nd position due to having a marginally lower execution score.

GB had secured Silver and Bronze behind Krisztian Berki

What drama. What excitement. What a sport; my sport!

Can it get any better than this? You'd better believe it!!!!

Well done Lou and Max!

Cheers, Dan

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Olympic All-Around Final

What a final! Yet again, in front of a very noisy and packed O2 arena, my sport has produced another very exciting final with so many twists and turns that even I was having trouble predicting the eventual winners until the final rotation.

Obviously the majority of the support was for our very own Kristian Thomas and Daniel Purvis, but there was also very healthy support for the USA, Germany and Japan - to name but a few - who really did try to out shout the patriotic home crowd, it was so exciting...

In the first rotation Kris and Dan got off to a flying start with Kristian setting the pace in the very first routine of the evening by posting a huge score of 15.566 on the Floor. The GB men continued their excellent form over the next two rotations, and the home crowd were going absolutely nuts as they both executed their routines and proved they were in contention for the medals. As always in most gymnastics competitions, it is the fourth rotation that proves to be the most difficult as the leader board starts to take shape and the adrenalin, nerves and pressure starts to build. Kris was next up on Vault with one of the most difficult vaults of the competition, but unfortunately on this occasion, Kris slightly over rotated his landing and stumbled backwards scoring 14.908. Dan, unfortunately, also suffered the same fate in the fourth rotation but on P Bars, when he was slightly off balance in one of his handstands, which forced him to part with the apparatus scoring 13.600.

The same fate was also suffered by several other nations, but after the fourth rotation the leader board was showing a possible Japan 1 & 2 with the current World Champion Kohei Uchimura leading and Ukraine holding on to the third spot.

The GB men returned to great form in the final two rotations as the pressure and nerves started to their toll on the leader board, including the two outstanding Japanese gymnasts who both had to carry falls on their final apparatus. The leader board had changed so many times over the last two rotations, but the fall on Pommel by Kazuhito Tanaka proved to be the most costly and he started to slip down the rankings and out of the medals as the other gymnasts completed their final routines. Ultimately the day was always going to go in favour of the current World Champion Kohei Uchimura as he set such a high standard on all apparatus that even a fall on his final routine was not enough to take him off the top of the leader board and saw him claim his first Olympic All-Around title after finishing second in Beijing.

The final standings were:
1. Kohei Uchimura – Japan
2. Marcel Nguyen – Germany
3. Danell Leyva - USA 

The GB men of Kristian Thomas and Daniel Purvis again wrote a new chapter  in our history book by recording the highest All Around finish in 100 years with Kris placed 7th and Dan placed 13th.
A special mention has to also go to Marcel Nguyen and Danell Leyva who never gave up the fight and put in an awesome display to pick up their first ever Olympic medals.

At the end of the day, the real winner is my sport, as GYMNASTICS yet again raised the roof at the O2 arena and has proved to be very exciting!!!!!!!!!

Cheers, Dan