Young gymnasts impress in first overseas meet for two years
Coach Anna Balada heaped praise on her gymnastics squad after a stellar performance competing at the Daytona Beach Open.
Competing in their first overseas event in two years, the seven-strong squad made up of Ella Younie, Ella Newton, Ben Mello, Carina Bortoli, Kennedy Kowalski and Abby and Katie Adams produced some dazzling displays.
Leading the way was Newton, who finished an incredible third of 85 competitors in level 7 after claiming victory on the bars as well a second on the floor and third on the beam.
She was joined in level 7 competition by Younie, who enjoyed a notable second place on bars on her way to fourth place overall in her age category.
Mello, the only male competitor in the travelling party enjoyed a fantastic meet with a win on the vault, second on the rings and parallel bars, as well as finishing third on the floor and pummel horse. He finished fifth but would have been placed had he chosen to compete on the high bar.
There were also strong performances from Kowalski and Bortoli in the Xcel Platinum division, finishing sixth and ninth respectively, while twins Abby and Katie Adams finished fifth and sixth in the Xcel Gold category.
“I’m just so proud of all of the gymnasts,” said coach Balada. “They all pulled together with some having to do new routines.
“The girls at level 7 were just fantastic and Ben also did a really fantastic job. Kennedy and Carina did really well in their routines and Abby and Katie were also fantastic. It was Katie’s first ever meet overseas and although she was nervous, she did a really great job.
“Their attitudes were also amazing and all of them were so positive throughout the competition. For me that’s excellent to see and one of the most important things.
“We’ve been working hard on having a positive attitude and being able to get over any disappointment or difficulties in competition, so it was great to see them all being positive the whole time.
“They all put in the hard work at the gym in preparation and they all performed really well and did such a great job.”
Having been denied the opportunity to compete overseas for the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Balada admitted there was apprehension among the squad ahead of the meet, but that has now turned to excitement and anticipation of competing abroad again.
“They were all a little scared but they are now really excited to go out and do it again,” added Balada, who highlighted the importance of gaining experience from competing overseas.
“The girls have been back in the gym and working even harder to get ready to go away and compete again.
“It was a great experience for them all. Not only because it got them out of their comfort zones but also because it is important for them to see other gymnasts at their level and above to see what they do differently.
“We encourage them to watch other gymnasts competing to see what they need to do to improve and it is also great for us to see what level our gymnasts are at internationally.”
While the group who competed in Daytona may have to wait for their chance to compete abroad again, Balada revealed some of their club mates will be in action at the Magical Classic in Orlando, Florida, next week, with plans to also possibly taking a team to compete in Canada in May.
“We should have a team of around 17 gymnasts going over to Florida, which will be a really exciting meet,” she said. “For most of them, who are the younger gymnasts, it will be their first time competing abroad, which will be great.
“We will also have Tse Burgess competing at level 8 for the first time so we will have to see how she gets on. She is working hard and getting better all the time.
“Things seem to going really well and there are definitely positive signs with the gymnasts. It is always exciting to be able to take children away to represent the gym and also Bermuda as well.”