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Teaching the art of gymnastics at camp

BY ZACH CHRISWELL | JULY 23, 2009 7:15 AM

The Iowa Gymnastics camp had nearly 30 boys ages 10 to 18 flipping, tumbling, twisting, and turning Wednesday in the Field House.

The camp — which began July 19 and concludes today — aims to improve skills of the gymnasts as well as show them things necessary to become better gymnasts.

Alexandre Kolyvanov, an assistant coach for the Iowa men’s gymnastics team, said the purpose of the camp is to work on new things and have fun with the sport. In some instances, it’s possible to see a change in the kids from the start of camp to the end, he said.

“In gymnastics, everything takes time,” Kolyvanov said. “Just like anything good in life takes time, same as gymnastics … But hopefully, the ideas that guys take home will definitely help them get better.”

Wednesday’s portion began with breakfast at 6:30 a.m., and then a couple hours later, the young boys arrived at the gym for a warm-up. Following that warm-up, they have the first of two sessions.



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The training sessions are sandwiched between lunch and dinner breaks, and the day concluded with an open workout until 8 p.m.

Iowa assistant coach Dmitri Trouch said the camp is more oriented toward helping each kid fulfill individual goals rather than one specific goal put in place for all the campers.

“We have different levels of guys who attend this camp,” Trouch said. “Some of them will improve their skills, some of them will do some learning here. Everybody in this gym has his own goals.”

Along with Trouch and Kolyvanov, Iowa sophomore gymnast Zach Cazabon helped with the kids, leading them through the stretches and guiding some of them on different techniques.

Cazabon has taught one other camp before, and he is fond of guiding the kids.

“The best part of the camp for me is getting to teach all of these kids,” Cazabon said. “Anything they want to learn, we can try to help them. It’s a lot of fun, they have fun, they enjoy it, and I enjoy it.”

Camper Jelani Akong loves how the camp is run, from the coaching to the fast-paced nature of the camp.

“The camp has been pretty good,” the 17-year-old said with a smile. “I like the camp and the scheduling. [My favorite part is] the coaching and how everything keeps moving; it’s pretty good practice.”

Kolyvanov noted the future is taken into consideration with these kids and doing what it takes to keep gymnastics on the campers’ minds as they get older.

“I think it’s just enjoying the sport,” he said. “I think the level that we have here; they’re obviously not the greatest gymnasts in the universe. Some of the guys are pretty good, and some of the young kids are especially good.

“I think keeping them motivated and excited about the sport for a long time is probably the ultimate goal.”


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