Gymnastics Weekly News: Chellsie Memmel's first interview as U.S. women's technical lead

Plus, International Gymnastics Hall of Fame induction, Ferhat Arican wants gold at Paris 2024 and a look back at Team USA from Atlanta 1996

By Scott Bregman
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Chellsie Memmel took questions for the first time Thursday (9 June) since starting her new role as the U.S. women's gymnastics technical lead. The 2008 Olympic team silver medallist is part of a trio that will now guide the program, and she is joined by fellow 2008 Olympian Alicia Sacramone Quinn, the strategic lead, and Dan Baker, the developmental lead.

"It wasn't something that I was thinking of in the beginning of the year," Memmel admitted in her opening statement, "but then just things kind of changed for me, and I thought it could be a good transition into a new role for me."

Memmel first began thinking about the role after USA Gymnastics vice president of women's program Annie Heffernon approached her to see if she would be interested, saying many people had suggested her for the position.

"I hadn't really thought about it," said Memmel. "Then, I stopped and thought about it for... It was more than a week. It was over a week of thinking about it, talking to my husband about it, talking to my family about it, wondering if it would be a good fit for me, a good fit for our family. It was a lot of thought went into it before I even decided to submit a resume because I know how big of a job it is."

The role, says Memmel, is primarily to help athletes and coaches with putting together their routines but will also entail advising up-and-coming athletes in USA Gymnastics' developmental program on what elements to be working.

Memmel, a brevet rated judge since 2013, will continue to judge (though only internationally) as she attends both the national team and developmental training camps.

Her intricate knowledge of the rule book will be critical to the role, she says.

"That is definitely going to be a part of my job of understanding the code, understanding the direction that it's moving," explained Memmel. "I know we've been doing a better job sending more judges out but getting the feedback when the judges are going to other countries, feedback from the other judges, is also going to be crucial."

Sacramone Quinn will take questions during an interview session on Monday (13 June), and will cover her remarks.

Memmel, Hambuchen, Ponor, and Gutsu inducted to International Gymnastics Hall of Fame

Speaking of Memmel, it's been a busy couple weeks, as she, along with Olympic champions Catalina Ponor, Fabian Hambuchen, and Tatiana Gutsu, were inducted to the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame on Sunday (5 June) in Norman, Oklahoma.

Each of the inductees addressed attendees at a black-tie dinner with Bart Conner, 1984 Olympic champion and Hall of Fame member himself, leading the festivities.

"Find your passion and enjoy the journey," Memmel said in her closing remarks, according to International Gymnast.

Hambuchen, who finally claimed horizontal bar gold at Rio 2016 after taking bronze at Beijing 2008 and silver at London 2012, paid special tribute to his mum.

“I want to use this opportunity to say thank you to a person who was never in the spotlight, who was in the background and did a great job, and that is my mum,” he said. “She was the one who was holding this team together. I think this is the right time to say thank you, Mama. You are the reason that we did what we did. Thank you and I love you.”

Romanian star Ponor was unable to attend the event due to travel complications. But the winner of three Olympic gold medals at Athens 2004 delivered remarks via video message.

“For me it’s an honor to be a part of this big and beautiful Hall of Fame family," said the 2004, 2012, and 2016 Olympian. "I am looking forward to being there next year and celebrating together.”

Gutsu, winner of two gold medals (team, all-around) at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, shared an emotional message, asking for peace and love in the world. Though Gutsu represented the Unified Team in Barcelona, she was born in Odessa, Ukraine.

Turkey's Arican dreams of more history

Ferhat Arican has already made history for Turkish gymnastics.

The 28-year-old became his nation's first artistic gymnast to compete at the Olympic Games at Rio 2016. Then, at last the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021, he won Turkey's first medal in the sport - a bronze on the parallel bars.

But, he wants more.

“It’s an undefinable honour to put my stamp on history in the Olympics,” said Arican, according to an interview with the International Gymnastics Federation. “I hope, in Paris, I will be the one who brings the first gold medal in Gymnastics.”

The 2020 and 2021 European champion on the parallel bars, Arican is still seeking an international gold medal in 2022 after taking silvers at the Cairo and Baku World Cups earlier this year.

He'll get that chance this week at the World Challenge Cup in Osijek, Croatia.

“I'm looking forward to winning this season's first gold medal in Osijek,” said Arican. “I'm one hundred percent healthy and ready for it. To be honest, my previous season's performance satisfied me a lot. Therefore, I aim to improve on that and win as many gold medals as I can.”

From the vault...

This week, we look back at Team USA's compulsory balance beam rotation from Atlanta 1996.

Dubbed the 'Magnificent Seven,' the squad went on to win the United States' first women's Olympic team gold medal. Shannon Miller lead the U.S. team in this rotation, scoring a 9.737.


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