|— Gymnast —|
|Full name||Annia Portuondo Hatch|
|Country represented||United States|
|Former countries represented||Cuba|
June 14, 1978 |
|Hometown||West Haven, Connecticut|
|Discipline||Women's artistic gymnastics|
|Years on national team||2002-2004|
|Head coach(es)||Alan Hatch|
Gymnastics career in Cuba
Hatch began gymnastics in her native Cuba at the age of five. She won her first Cuban National Championships at the age of ten; over the course of her career she would win the title a total of seven times.
Competing for Cuba, Hatch made her debut at the World Gymnastics Championships in 1993. She placed tenth in the all-around. In 1995 she picked up three medals at the Pan Am Games, placing fourth in the all-around, second on the balance beam, and third on the vault and uneven bars. The following year, in 1996, she became the first Cuban gymnast ever to win a medal at the World Championships with a bronze on the vault. The result, however, was controversial, as many experts believed Annia's performance merited the gold medal over Romania's Gina Gogean and Simona Amanar.
Hatch qualified as an individual for the 1996 Olympics, but a lack of funding prevented the Cuban Olympic Committee from sending her to the competition. She retired and, in 1997, moved to the United States. With her new husband, Alan Hatch, she became a part owner and coach of the Stars Academy gym in West Haven, Connecticut. In 2001 she became an American citizen.
Gymnastics career in the United States
Hatch resumed training at the elite level in 2001 with her husband as her coach. By mid-2002, Hatch turned heads in the U.S. when she won the U.S. Classic, a qualifier to the U.S. National Championships. In doing so, she defeated Tasha Schwikert, the number one ranked U.S. gymnast, the reigning national champion and highest finisher at the 2001 World Championships. Hatch also placed first in the vault at the meet. Hatch went on to place first after the first day of the U.S. National Championships, and fourth at the conclusion of the meet. Hatch's vaults were so spectacular (a well executed double twisting tsukahara and a powerful double twisting yurchenko) that many experts believed Hatch was likely to win vault at the upcoming World Championships in Debrecen, Hungary.
Although Hatch was a U.S. citizen, Olympic rules stated that during the first year after obtaining citizenship in a new nation, one's former country of citizenship had to give permission to release the gymnast in order for her to represent her new country in international competition. Fidel Castro refused to release Hatch, prompting U.S. government officials and former U.S. president Jimmy Carter to specifically petition Cuba on Hatch's behalf. Because Cuba would not release her voluntarily, Hatch had to wait until she was granted an international release in 2003 before she was permitted to represent the United States in international competition.
Hatch was named to the 2003 World Championships team after a solid placement at U.S. Nationals. In podium training at Worlds, Hatch looked to once again be the top contender for the gold medal on the vault, but a devastating knee injury—a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)—the day before the start of the competition left Hatch on the sidelines.
The recovery time for ACL reconstruction is usually about twelve months. However, Hatch was able to return to competitive gymnastics by the US Nationals and the Olympic Trials in the middle of 2004. She was named to the US squad for the 2004 Olympics. In Athens, Hatch competed only on vault in the team competition, and contributed to the US team's silver medal. Although her ACL was not completely rehabilitated, she still qualified to the vault event final, where she won a silver medal behind Monica Roșu from Romania. Despite competing for the USA she is the first Cuban female gymnast to win an olympic medal in gymnastics.
After the Olympics
After the Olympics, Hatch retired from competition. She has since pursued fashion and music while coaching gymnastics. Hatch and her husband formerly operated a gym called Stars Elite Gymnastics LLC in West Haven, CT. Hatch has developed her own clothing line. In January 2012 she became the head girls coach at G-Force Gymnastics Training Center in Ashburn, VA where she resides with her husband.
- Annia Hatch at Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique[not in citation given]
- "West Haven celebrates Annia Hatch's Olympic silver medal"[dead link]- Laura Walsh, Associated Press, August 23, 2004
- "TAG USA Gymnastics" - February 19, 2009[not in citation given]