Welcome to Gymnastics Today, an occasional personal blog devoted to gymnastics, or more specifically, artistic gymnastics, mostly women’s, from JO to international elite to NCAA.
WHO AM I? My name is Jim Bierbaum, I live in Wilmington, Delaware and I am a lifelong fan of gymnastics (as well as an avid sports photographer, examples of which you can see at my photography site www.fotosportif.com).
As I said, I have been a lifelong gymnastics fan, ever since watching — at the age of 9 — Olga Korbut mesmerize the world at the 1972 Munich Olympics (as an aside I’m thrilled to say that today I am a Facebook friend of Olga). After many years of having to wait for the Olympics to roll around every four years to see any gymnastics coverage on TV, once the era of cable had fully arrived, in the early 1990s I started paying much closer attention to the sport.
I’ve never trained, competed, coached or officiated in the sport at all, I’m just a fan. Over the years I’ve learned a lot about gymnastics, but my technical knowledge of all of the skills and the Code of Points is far, far below that of any insider. Most of my friends and family think I’m a bit odd to be so nuts about gymnastics; I don’t think it’s odd at all, although I admit that when I started trying in about 2013 to read the FIG Code of Points and Gerald George’s biomechanical text, or when I drove 900 miles from Wilmington to St. Louis in one straight shot for the 2016 P&G Championships, I guess I can’t blame non-fans for thinking my enthusiasm might be a tad over the top for a layman.
My first gymnastics event I attended (and tried to photograph, with two 1960’s manual focus, manual film advance SLRs) in person was the 2001 US National Championships, held in Philadelphia. The excitement of being there for such a big event really hooked me on trying to catch as many competitions as I can manage. I was also pleased to get as many decent photos as I did with those old 35mm cameras, but with the arrival of digital photography age it is so much easier and cheaper in most ways (since there’s none of the cost for film or processing).
Living in Delaware, the events attend (and shoot) involve the colleges and clubs within reasonable distance, (in most cases getting lots of very good photos) from Hill’s Maryland Classic and Parkettes Invitational (where I’ve seen early in their careers such luminaries as Alicia Sacramone, Elizabeth Price, Margzetta Frazier, Christina Desidario, Ashton Locklear, and Olivia Dunne (Livvy at 11 years old!). In the dozens of NCAA meets I’ve attended, I’ve been able to see teams such top squads as Stanford, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri (those were all at the 2005 Northeast Regional,with Elise Ray and Ashley Kupets, Nikki Childs, and Katie Heenan!), plus more local schools and others in ECAC and EAGL such as Maryland, North Carolina and North Carolina State,George Washington, Towson, West Chester, Penn, and West Virginia.On the international elite side, I attended the 2001 US Gymnastics National Championships, the 2008 US Olympic trials, plus a parade of international stars on ESPN2’s 2013 Pro Gymnastics Challenge, where competitors included Catalina Ponor, Oksana Chusovitina, Anna Pavlova, Chellsie Memmel, Jana Bieger, Jade Barbosa, Jessica López, Jonathan Horton, Jake Dalton, Alex Naddour and Paul Ruggeri, with celebrity coaches/judges such as Svetlana Boguinskaya, Nastia Liukin, Dominique Moceanu and Maddy Curley. I had a front row seat, and the dramatic lighting for television made for some of my best photos, and it was also a real thrill to see some of my idols and legends of the sport compete in person. More recently I’ve also been to the US Nationals in 2014-2016 (plus the GK US Classic in 2016 and 2018), but at such big events you need to have a press credential for them to let you bring in a decent camera, so those events I wasn’t able to get very good photos of (although a nice Lumix point-&-shoot can get the halfway decent photos that illustrate posts here about those more recent major events).
Thank you for visiting gym2day.com. If you like it, post a comment with your thoughts. Please also visit my sports photography blog, www.fotosportif.com, with news and commentary on gymnastics (mostly WAG, from JO to international elite to NCAA. I am also webmaster of www.anna-pavlova.net, the official website of retired Russian superstar gymnast Anna Pavlova, so stop by there to see results, photos, videos and a few other things.
All photos on this site are copyright Jim Bierbaum/fotosportif.com, unless otherwise noted. If you’d like to use any of my photos, I’m amenable to any reasonable request that provides proper photo credit, so contact me.