Oct. 9, 2013
CHICAGO – UIC freshman gymnast Nicole Szabo recently returned to Chicago after competing at the 2013 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium, where she represented her home country of South Africa. Szabo’s performance marked her third World Championships appearance, as she placed 72nd out of 134 competing gymnasts from 57 countries.
"It is a huge accomplishment to make it to the World Championships," co-head women's gymnastics coach Peter Jansson said. "She has been there before, and that signifies the quality of the gymnast that we are fortunate to have. We are very proud of her and what she was able to accomplish, especially as a freshman."
Szabo arrived in Belgium on Sept. 25 and trained every day up until competition, and while admitting she was nervous, she was also very excited to compete. In facing some of the best gymnasts in the world, Szabo combined for a total score of 45.499 in the qualifying round on Oct. 1, after tallying an 11.600 on vault, 11.233 on uneven bars, 11.100 on beam and 11.566 on floor.
"The toughest part, I think for her, was to have to go to one of the biggest competitions of her life four weeks after she moved thousands of miles away from her family and country, changed coaches and training facilities, and started at a university; and on top of that, she needed to prepare and get ready for competition," added Jansson. "With all of that taken into consideration, we are extremely happy with how she did. She did very well on bars, her floor was very solid and she had a small mistake on beam, but that is the nature of the event."
While in the town of Antwerp, Szabo also was able to sightsee and explore with her family.
“They came to Belgium to watch me compete, so I spent some time with them, since I will not see them until May,” Szabo said.
Now back at UIC, Szabo and the Flames are currently training for their upcoming 2014 competitive season, which is scheduled to get underway in January.
“I think UIC will have an amazing season,” added Szabo. “From what I have seen in the gym, the girls are looking good already. The atmosphere is really nice, and the team is always supportive and focused on the goal of having one of the best seasons yet.”
"Anytime you add somebody that has experience at the absolute highest level of your sport, that experience now becomes part of your team," Jansson said. "The perfection she has expected of herself and that has been expected of her, and the lessons she has learned along the way, gets passed on to the team. It makes a huge difference, and we can see that as the team develops."