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Gymnasts hit worlds qualifying standard

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Off to a flyer: Daria Symonds competes in the vault during the International Gymastics Challenge (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A dozen of the Island’s top young gymnasts have reached the qualifying standard for the USAIGC/IAIGC World Championships to be held in Orlando in June.

More than 25 Bermudian athletes aged between 8 and 17 took part in the International Gymnastics Challenge at the Southside training centre against competitors from nine overseas teams at the weekend.

Bella Charleson, Azalea Pontes, Kyra King in the Copper division, Amari Trott, Bailey Boyd in the bronze division, Jezhari Talbot, Trinity Wilson, Kinae Dowling in the silver division, Gianna Webbe, Anna Francoeur in the gold division, as well as Danielle Wall and Zantae Dill in the platinum division have all qualified for the championships.

Running from June 24 to July 3, the championships will also feature gymnasts from Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Britain, South Africa and the United States.

Adriana Forde, the Bermuda Gymnastics Association head coach, said her goal was for all of the programme’s gymnasts to reach the qualifying standard over the next few months.

“We are on a quest to get every one of our athletes to make next year’s championships,” she said. “It’s one of the levels of competition we have our athletes compete in.

“This allows all of our athletes to achieve something for the season and we will continue to push them to higher levels of excellence.

“Our next meet is the Manhattan Classic and we’re very optimistic that those who choose to attend will be able to get their qualifying score there.”

Forde, 32, was overseeing her first competition as the BGA head coach after replacing Duke Nelligan in August. Nelligan and his wife Chris, who also worked as a BGA coach, both returned to Bermuda to support the International Gymnastics Challenge, described as a “family-orientated type of meet” by Forde.

The two-day event included more than 90 visiting athletes from Planets Gymnastics, of Massachusetts, Apex Gymnastics Academy, of New York, Flyers Gymnastics Academy, of New Jersey, KMC Dance and Gymnastics, of Pennsylvania, Airborne Gymnastics Academy, of New Jersey, Rainbow Gymnastics, of New Jersey, and Hill’s Gymnastic’s of New York.

“The athletes performed well, showed well and their parents and community were here to support them,” said Forde, who spent the past 16 years coaching at Gymnastics Energy, a non-profit organisation in St Catharines, Ontario, as well supporting the Cayman Islands Gymnastics Association’s programme as a volunteer.

“The atmosphere was great and felt uplifting and the athletes definitely played into that. We had some great feedback from coaches saying that will see us next year.

“The meet ran really efficiently and we finished ahead of schedule on every flight, which was nice because it allowed [the visiting] parents to go and explore the Island.

“I felt the organisation ran a really welcoming meet and I was proud to be a part of the BGA team.”

Keeping her composure: Talbot competes on the balance beam at the National Training Centre at Southside(Photograph by Akil Simmons)