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Island’s gymnasts shine at US event

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Impressive technique: Pontes achieved a personal best on the bars with a 9.1 to finish thirteenth out of 27 competitors in the all-around

Bermudian gymnasts have been busy claiming glory at the United States and International Association of Independent Gymnastics Clubs World Tournament in Orlando.

The Bermuda Gymnastics Association qualified 97 per cent of its competitive and rhythmic team members for the ten-day competition, which features athletes from England, Canada, South Africa and the US.

Adriana Forde, the BGA head coach, said the meet, held at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Hotel, is one of the biggest competitions of the year for Bermuda’s performers.

“It has been a great season and we are so fortunate to have such amazing athletes and coaches working hard to achieve new personal bests every day,” Forde said.

On the opening day of the event last Friday, Bella Charleson had plenty to celebrate in the copper 1 division, earning personal bests in the bars, floors and vault.

The eight-year-old finished third in the all-around with a personal best of 36.650. She also placed first on the bars with a 9.350 and first on the floor with a 9.375.

“Bella has been competing for one year with Bermuda Gymnastics competitive team and with this competition being a huge success, we would like to applaud both her and her coaches,” Forde added.

Bermuda’s strong start in the copper 1 division continued on Saturday, with ten-year-old Kyra King placing first in the vault with a personal best of 9.525 and finished fourteenth with an all-around score of 35.950.

Also competing in the copper 1 level, Azalea Pontes, 10, achieved a personal best on the bars with a 9.1 to finish thirteenth out of 27 competitors with an all-around score of 36.00.

On Sunday, Bermuda’s rhythmic gymnasts had an opportunity to display their talents, with Mya Furbert, 12, taking gold after an impressive free ex routine before winning silver in the hoop routine.

Daria Symonds, 13, also won gold in the free ex and ball, as well as finishing second in the hoop. Both Furbert and Symonds were scheduled for action yesterday afternoon in the artistic meet.

In the 14-year division, Natalie Lightbourne’s skill and technique helped her win the all-round title, placing first in the free ex, ball and hoop.

Two of Bermuda’s youngest athletes, Bethany Cooze and Ella Tear, competed in the all-around competition on Sunday, where medals are distributed to the top 50 per cent in each event.

Cooze, nine, placed fourteenth out of 32 athletes in her age group and qualified for both the beam and floor finals. Tear, 10, also competing in the bronze division, came 20th out of 42 gymnasts in the all-around to qualify for the vault finals.

Fifteen gymnasts are representing Bermuda at the tournament, which runs until Sunday.

In the medals: Charleson had plenty to celebrate in the copper 1 division