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REVIEW OF THE 2017 HELSINKI WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

REVIEW OF THE 2017 HELSINKI WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

 

Everyone was saying that the 2017 Helsinki world championships was going to a unique event.

And they were right: It was a blast, and to hear that many people roaring in an AGG competition is something that no one that stepped into the carpet will forget.

If mainstream media cares about gymnastics or not is irrelevant: this is the era of the internet, and each of us is a media company.

We can reach a lot of people if the content is right: let’s do it on our own.

My thing is AGG physical preparation only, so take my views on team performances with a grain of salt.

However, as a spectator, here are my 2 cents on the leading teams:

 

Team Japan shined bright.

Many argue that they deserved a medal.

Everyone in Finland seems to like them, and honestly, what’s there not to like? They don’t try to be different: they ARE different.

Their choreography feels fresh and entertaining in a sport where it’s hard to judge who’s the best team.

They will smile at you in the halls and say “thank you” for no reason, but don’t get fooled: they don’t come for tourism, they compete to win to rip a medal off your neck as soon as they can.

 

For Minetit, competing to be the world’s best is just another day in the office.

Their Junior team is a legion of clones, and they will appear in your dreams if you try to beat them.

No one can take anything away from them: Their seniors pulled off a challenging music and made Finland proud.

Ultimately, they executed, and they got what matters the most: results.

2 Golds and their legend grows. Congrats Minetit.

 

OVO is an AGG juggernaut.

The most successful club in the history of the sport is also the most professional: they are smart enough to take good care of their gymnasts, and they seem to have an army of coaches, osteopaths, and physiotherapists.

While they didn’t sweep everybody else, they still delivered a majestic performance.

They are too big to not return to the highest spot on the podium sooner than later.

 

Expressia was flawless. Or almost.

When someone misses glory by such a small difference, the silver does not taste as good.

Russian teams tend to be classic with their style, and at times I feel like I am watching rhythmic gymnastics.

However, their athletes are born for this: their legs will reach the sky, and their hips and ankles will bend freely and execute impeccably.

I want AGG to grow, but if Russia would make this sport a priority, the rest of the world wouldn’t even be in the same league.

 

Personally, I have to be very satisfied with my team, Gloria Jr.

We were able to progressively switch to a winner mindset, stay injury-free and give bigger clubs a run for their money.

All while remaining focused on our goals.

We will give our best effort to keep climbing the rankings.

Overall, what’s exciting to me is that the most competitive side of this sport is still in its infancy.

Maybe, in a not so far away and not so impossible future, we could see a sold-out Helsinki Olympic Stadium cheering for teenage gymnasts in a World Championship.

Don’t think I’m crazy: dreams come true if you work hard enough.

READ ALL STUDIES EVER DONE ON AGG

READ ALL STUDIES EVER DONE ON AGG

For a couple of years, I have been looking for scientific literature on Aesthetic Group Gymnastics.

I feel that still today, a lot of the training is culture driven and not so much evidence-based.

Very few research has been done directly on AGG, but there are some interesting studies.

At the end of this article, there is a link that will give you access to all AGG-related studies that I have been able to find.

If you have any other studies, please send them to me, and I will update the folder.

Notice that as AGG research is limited: many of the studies are from rhythmic gymnastics or just simple articles.

Carefully analyzing the AGG-related studies has been of great help to me, so I am happy if it can be useful to you too.

Trading wild Friday nights out for reading research at home on AGG maximal oxygen consumption and low back injury incidence is not for everyone.

However, if you want to be the best in the sport, you need more than part-time dedication.

Enjoy: AGG STUDIES

A LOOK AT THE DATA OF THE AGG WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

A LOOK AT THE DATA OF THE AGG WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

As the Helsinki 2017 world championship approaches, I want to analyze historical data about past competitions to get a closer picture of the event.

For a couple of months, I tried to find data regarding junior and women’s categories, all placings and points from every year, club, and country.

I contacted several AGG sources asking if such database is available, but luck wasn’t on my side.

I did find, however, the first three women’s placings of most years in the AGG federation website.

Please beware that I ignore if the data is 100% correct or not.

Also, If you see that I made any mistake with the analysis, just let me know, and I will correct it.

I put together a map and a simple table.

You will see it better on your desktop computer than on your phone:

First of all, click the double arrow on the bottom right corner to make it full screen.

On the first page, you can see where the event took place every year.

If you choose a particular year on the selector to the left, the map will show the place where the competition was held that year.

 

Insights

  • Finland has previously held this competition 3 times: Helsinki 2000, Tampere 2006 and Lahti 2013.
  • No country has held the event more times than Finland.
  • Only one time has the competition been celebrated overseas: In 2008 in Toronto, Canada.

Now click on the second page where you can see the full dataset:

  • Finland has more golds than all the other gold medal countries combined, with a total of 9. Russia has 6 and Estonia 2. These are the only 3 countries to ever win a gold medal.
  • Russia has the most medals overall, with 19. Finland has 16, Bulgaria 9 and Estonia 8. Only these 4 countries have won a medal of any kind.
  • Russia has the longest winning streak of the competition with team Madonna: 4 consecutive golds, from 2011 to 2014.

Although A.G.G. is expanding in other areas of the world, it remains a sport dominated by Northern and Eastern-European countries.

Next month in Helsinki we have the chance to watch the best of the best.

If you live in Helsinki, don’t miss out: it may take another 17 years before the World Championship comes back to the city!

GYMNASTICS AND BIG MUSCLES

GYMNASTICS AND BIG MUSCLES

During the last 2 and a half years I have talked a lot with A.G.G. coaches.

There are a few reasons that, in some cases, prevent them from embracing strength training as a part of their planning.

The biggest objection is the fear of growing big muscles, or the gymnasts appearing “too bulky.”

It is no wonder that many still hold this belief.

There is no specific A.G.G. strength training education where the basics of physiology are studied in depth by the coaches.

This way, opinions are susceptive to be influenced by any outside input regardless of its scientific base, or the lack of it.

 

Are they going to get big?

The amount of muscle an athlete can put is going to be mainly dictated by their genetics.

I train gymnasts that look athletic and others that look “skinny,” both following very similar training programs.

A little perspective is needed.

The potential for most women to grow muscle is very limited.

Chances that a gymnast lifting weights once or twice a week will put a significant amount of muscle are very slim.

If it were that easy, you wouldn’t have gyms full of young guys failing to grow big biceps year after year no matter how hard they try.

 

Bodyweight training vs. lifting weights

Often, the perception of barbells and dumbbells is thought of as something too heavy for a gymnast, or just unnecessary.

Let’s think about that for a second: gymnasts are absorbing several times their body weight every time they land on the ground after a jump.

Their bodies need to be prepared to handle landings and display excellent postural control.

Otherwise, the lower back, hips, knees, and ankles will be in for a very unpleasant ride.

Let’s not lose sight the goal: decrease injury rate and improve performance.

You can develop strength with many different tools: Surely one of them is bodyweight-only training.

But it’s not enough.

Bands, dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells are all valid and recommended.

Think of it of tools in a toolbox: The tools are a means to an end, not the end itself.

Don’t be afraid of lifting weights.

Look for a coach with experience and start getting the results you’ve been dreaming about.

5 IDEAS TO MAKE AGG MORE POPULAR

5 IDEAS TO MAKE AGG MORE POPULAR

In Finland, I often hear the word “Huippuvoimistelu.”

It means something like “professional gymnastics” or “elite gymnastics.”

If we look in Wikipedia the definition of pro sports, it says:
“Professional sports, as opposed to amateur sports, are sports in which athletes receive payment for their performance.”

 

No money

To my knowledge, no AGG gymnast earns money.

Not even the winners of the world championships.

In fact, traveling, training and paying coaches costs the gymnasts -or more precisely, their families- a lot of money.

As much as it hurts me to admit, AGG is not a professional sport.

It doesn’t mean that it won’t be one day.

It just means that right now it’s not.

I will agree that anyone involved in AGG is not in it for getting rich, but it is somehow sad that well over a decade of training will only get you a medal worth 5 euros.

However, not all hope is lost.

What can we do to help clubs and gymnasts gain exposure and have better training conditions?

We need to think of different marketing strategies that don’t fit the old-school approach.

If someone would ask you who is the most famous gymnast in AGG, you probably couldn’t answer.

Every other sport has stars.

Why don’t we have stars? Where are the celebrity gymnasts?

You may not know much about bodybuilding.

But if you live in Finland, you know who Jari “Bull” Mentula is.

You may not like soccer, but you have heard about Messi and Ronaldo.

Every sport needs idols.

 

Here are 5 ideas that you could use to grow AGG:

1. If you are a gymnast, open a website.

Write about gymnastics, write about the clothes you wear, what you eat, what music do you like.

Maybe soon everybody will know who you are and buy t-shirts with your name on them. You can be the first star of your sport.

2. If you’re an AGG Club, create a youtube series showing the joys and struggles of a group of gymnasts.

The average person can’t relate to the specifics of the sport, but they understand passion, drama, defeat, and joy.

3. If you are a coach, Create a daily program on Snapchat giving training tips for gymnasts.

Once the channel has thousands of followers, organize paid seminars around the country for both gymnasts and coaches.

4. If you’re the Federation, organize an AGG competition for the women’s category.

After covering costs (all teams pay inscriptions) use the rest of the money as a price for the top 3 teams.

Paying for results will increase the level of the sport very quickly.

5. If you’re a parent, have lots of patience

 

We can complain that AGG is expensive for families and that coaches get lousy pay, but what are we doing to change it?

My small contribution is writing this blog.

What is yours?