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USA initiative to assist Bermuda development programme

Bermuda is one of four countries accepted into the USA Gymnastics Global Ambassador Programme which was set up in 2012 and is designed to assist countries worldwide with the development of gymnastics.

Bermuda joins Denmark, Panama and South Africa as four countries that will receive support through the Global Ambassador Programme and have access to US athletes and coaches as consultants on a request basis. Already the Bermuda Gymnastics Association (BGA) have announced a training camp over the midterm break next month which will run by USA National team coach Marvin Sharp. Sharpe owns Sharp's Gymnastics in Indianapolis, Indiana and has coached many elite athletes in the US, including world champion and Olympic medallist Bridget Sloan.

BGA director Duke Nelligan and assistant head coach Amanda Baughman applied to join the programme earlier this year and it was while in Puerto Rico for the Pan American Gymnastics Union meetings in August, that Nelligan received the news of Bermuda's acceptance.

“The application had to include a detailed plan of how USA Gymnastics could assist the programme, as well as demonstrate that the BGA had the necessary infrastructure, athlete base, and passion already in place to do the work on our end as well,” said Nelligan.

“The way I see it working is I listen to coaches all over Bermuda talking about how (Lionel) Messi in Spain changed football, how Gabby Douglas in the USA is a world figure now after the Summer Olympics,” said Nelligan.

“My thought process is rather than chasing down these people, why not bring the information to us. Have the US send coaches to us who can see what we're doing, understand our environment, understand the restrictions and plusses and minuses that are a part of our everyday life and help build our infrastructure, instead of flying off to spend a week in California to study under some coach and then coming back and realising that our situation is not exactly the same.”

Added Nelligan: “In the States and many countries gymnastics becomes almost like a full time job, they train literally 30 hours a week or more and in Bermuda that is not going to happen. The first coach coming in for us is Marvin Sharpe whose gymnast was Bridget Sloan, a phenomenal athlete for the US. We will have him here during our fall break and another US coach coming in that week so we're going to run a training camp at the end of October and it will be in preparation for our first home meet in November which has ten programmes coming from the US and Canada and that will be our first test prior to the Junior Olympics to be held in Brazil. We have three or four gymnasts who are age eligible for that.

“Then we will bring them in again and the next group will be the Commonwealth Games team and they will have excess to not just coaches but potentially a training camp in the US. What we're trying to do is jump-start this programme in such a way that not just our athletes are going to benefit but also our coaches here in Bermuda and all the children who watch to see how our gymnasts are doing. We're planting the seeds for our future by building our infrastructure.”

Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics, is excited about the new programme which will help develop the sport worldwide. “USA Gymnastics received a number of quality requests, and we are going to work to build this programme over time,” Penny assured.

“These four countries had well-defined programmes and needs that we felt could have an immediate impact on their athlete development pipelines. And, each will help provide examples of how we can aid other countries. We are confident this is a great start for this programme, and look forward to working with other countries on how we can assist them as well.”

In partnership with the US Olympic Committee (USOC), AAI and the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), the USA Gymnastics Global Ambassador Programme will provide US athletes and coaches as consultants on a request basis to developing countries to stimulate the growth of the sport and athlete development at many levels. AAI, a long-time partner of USA Gymnastics, will assist with equipment requests for approved Global Ambassador Programme partners. Developing countries are those that are not yet competing in the World Championships on a frequent basis and/or those that could use help promoting the sport to achieve more awareness and growth.

Sadia Wilson and other local gymnasts will benefit from a new Global ambassador Programme by US Gymnastics aimed at developing the sport worldwide. (Photo by Mark Tatem)

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Published September 17, 2013 at 6:49 pm (Updated September 17, 2013 at 6:52 pm)

USA initiative to assist Bermuda development programme

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