Brestyan is New Australian Women’s National Coach

mihai-brestyan-london-2012

Mihai Brestyan, coach of three-time Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman and Olympic silver medalist Alicia Sacramone, has been named the women’s national team coach in Australia.

Following this summer’s Olympic Games and Australia’s failure to qualify a full team, Peddy Liddick — the national team coach of 20 years — decided to bow out. Just in time for the Games in Sydney, Liddick took the Australian program from a non-contender to one on the rise.

In her history, Liddick led the team to a team bronze at worlds in Anaheim in 2003, and followed up this achievement with the country’s Olympic-best sixth place team finish in 2008, its first individual world medal with Monette Russo’s bronze in 2005, and its first world title with Lauren Mitchell in 2010.

The program has spent the last few years in decline, however, and Liddick told the press after her decision in December that it was the best time for her to step aside, “both personally and professionally.” Gymnastics Australia chief executive Mark Rendell said that the sport is “indebted to Peggy for her achievements,” and he hopes she’ll stay on as a mentor during the transition, but he had a hefty task on his hands to find her replacement, and a lengthy search commenced almost instantly.

At the end of that process, the Romanian-born Brestyan was considered the best man for the job thanks to his success with his Olympic superstars, including bringing both Raisman and Sacramone from injuries and hiatuses back to top-level routines, and also with his gym, Brestyan’s American Gymnastics in Burlington, Mass., which boasts one of the best J.O. club programs in the country.

As the national team floor coach for the U.S. women’s program, Brestyan also had a special role within the country’s elite system, bringing the competitive level on floor exercise up to a higher standard during his years in this role. It is because of that higher standard and his history of success both at the high-performance and developmental levels that Gymnastics Australia wants him to bring down under.

“Gymnastics Australia was clear in its objective of securing a world best coach to drive performance standards of Australian athletes and coaches to be internationally competitive,” Rendell said in a press release today.

In his new role, Brestyan will work directly with the senior and junior national teams at regular camps in addition to leading the strategic direction for the program going forward to the annual Melbourne World Cups, the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next year, and to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 and beyond.

“This is a new chapter and an exciting challenge,” Brestyan said. “I’m looking forward to sharing my learnings and experiences with the athletes and coaches in Australia and guiding women’s gymnastics to a leading gymnastics nation.”

It’s unclear what the situation will be going forward with his U.S.-based gym and going forward in Raisman’s elite career should she decide to continue. At his gym, Brestyan trained gymnasts from elite programs all over the world (including Canada, Trinidad & Tobago, and Egypt) and traveled with them to international competitions despite his allegiance to the U.S. national program, so technically he could still continue to coach Raisman if they could find a way to make it work out geographically (though should she make another worlds or Olympic team, she’d have to bring someone else along as her personal coach).

But this isn’t a priority right now, and Raisman’s coaching needs won’t become an issue for at least the next year or so. Instead, Brestyan’s focus at the moment is on beginning his role with a ten-day visit to the country, where he will meet with Gymnastics Australia staff, coaches, and athletes.

We look forward to Brestyan’s future with Gymnastics Australia and hope he is able to accomplish great things with a team of strong young women hoping to get the program back on track. Congratulations to him, and we can’t wait to see him in action!

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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14 thoughts on “Brestyan is New Australian Women’s National Coach

  1. As an Aussie I’m soooo excited for this!!! Hopefully he can really make our women’s team a force to be reckoned with! 🇦🇺🇦🇺🐨🐨

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  2. Whoa! So many mixed feelings about this! Go the green & gold buuuut… I bet this is gonna mean Aly retires for real. Well, it’ll be exciting anyway, and I bet he’ll stop hoovering chalk at last!

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  3. Also mixed feelings about this. He announced a new bars coach for his gym iirc, which I guess means he knows it’s a weakness. It’s a potential Aussie strength so hopefully he harnesses the power of the coaches at camps, or brings someone in. I feel like every program could do with at least some percentage of his leg work, it’s a step towards making sure there are more than 3 DTYs and hopefully a slight improvement of floor passes and even more staying power on beam. It definitely means Aly has some decisions to make, but let’s look back and see how Alicia did things 2010-2012 she was based in Denver(?) a lot of the time, she said things like “I’m an adult, I’m motivated, I don’t need supervision to condition”, if he continues to own the gym (I’m assuming him and Sylvia will just spend the vast majority of their time in Australia, but maybe if he sees this as a 4 year thing they won’t move fully) then there will never be a problem with her getting supervision if she remains in that area, the direction can come from videos, skype and visits. History has shown there are other gyms happy to work with gymnasts on a temporary basis, particularly Chris Waller in LA, though I think he got a new position? Anyway, I hope that this doesn’t change anything for Aly and the Mihai does awesome things with the Australians, what an amazing opportunity for him, he can’t not take it because Aly might come back, at the same time, I hope he did at least tell her before going public.

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    • Aly has the skills, but I think she could honestly benefit from a new coach with a greater focus on technical skills + execution. Aly doesn’t need any new tricks, she just needs to clean up her existing routines. And if her new coach is a better bars technician – I think it could turn Aly into an even greater all-arounder. Gabby on the other hand I think has the execution, but needs a new coach to push her skill set. I think Gabby/Aly could both benefit from new coaches, Simone I’m not so sure about, but SIMONE IS SIMONE.

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  4. I think that he will bring Australia to the top level which is really exciting. Plus the girls have other coaches, Brestyan is there to hand out suggestions, feeback, and will switch around whatever needs to be switched, so I’m not too worried about bars. I’m excited because I think he’ll definitely make huge positive changes toward the approach of the Australian program. As for Aly there is some worry, but she doesn’t really need a coach, and is naturally extremely solid. Even if Aly decides to bow out because of the coaching situation (although I highly doubt she will) she has three Olympic golds and six medals total. Not a bad haul. So many changes this year. New coaching and arrangement in Romania. New FIG president. New USA head. New Brazilian head. New Australian head. Fantastic new seniors. New code. New quad. This will be interesting, and i think it’ll be in a good way.

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