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Gymnasts return with impressive gold medal haul

Bermuda Gymnastics Team brought back a haul of medals to the Island after competing at the Manhattan Classic meet in New York.

The eight-girl team included captain Morgan Beckles (15), Tabytha Hofheins (13), Sydney Mason (12), Zantae Dill (12), Danielle Wall (11), Sadia Wilson (10), Tais Burgess-Allen (10), and Zekiah Lewis (10).

The Classic gave the girls a chance to compete twice in one weekend; once last Friday under USAIGC rules and then again on Saturday and Sunday under the more demanding USAG rules.

Last Friday, the gymnasts had the opportunity to compete in the same session, as Silver level and Platinum level gymnasts were scheduled at the same time. All of the silver gymnasts competed in the 9-12 year old division and Sadia Wilson was Bermuda's top finisher, earning a 36.775 (her personal best) for fourth place in the all-around.

Helping her to that score was a huge 9.575 on vaulting for second place. Just behind Wilson was Zantae Dill, who scored a 36.05 in the all-around for fifth place.

Dill was also Bermuda's top finisher on the floor with a 9.1 for third place. The rest of the silver team finished in seventh through 10th place, with Tais Burgess-Allen's 35.2, Zekiah Lewis'34.950, Sydney Mason's 34.925, and Danielle Wall's 34.500.

This impressive group effort earned the second place Silver team award, just over a point away from first place.

Tabytha Hofheins and Morgan Beckles competed in the Platinum level division. Beckles swept the gold medals, winning every event and the all-around with a 35.150. Hofheins's top score came on beam with an 8.3, and she earned second place in the all-around with a 31.1350. The Platinum gymnasts also led Bermuda to earning the “Spirit of the Sport” Award, given to the team displaying the most team spirit, enthusiasm, and sportsmanship.

Returning to action the next morning, Hofheins and Beckles competed under the tougher rules of the USAG Level 9 session. Unfortunately, Beckles was suffering from a cold and had made a few uncharacteristic mistakes.

Head coach Duke Nelligan said: “Considering Morgan was worn down with the cold, she turned in a great performance. She refused to water down her routines and still went for all her big skills. It was a great example for our youngsters who cheered her on. Just because you don't feel your best, you need to trust that your hard work in the gym has prepared you to perform”

Beckles still turned in a strong floor performance on her way to a 32.025 and 4th place in the all-around.

Hofheins improved on her bar score by seven tenths of a point from Friday on her way to a fifth place finish all around in the 13-year-old division.

The rest of the Bermuda gymnasts finished the weekend by competing in the USAG level 7 session on Sunday. Like last Friday, the group turned in consistent and exciting performances and earned seventh place as a team in a very competitive field. The team's top finish came from Zantae Dill, who won the gold medal on balance beam in her 12-year-old age group, with an 8.6. Also in the 12-year-old division was Sydney Mason, whose 9.175 5th place floor score helped her achieve a solid 34.425 in the all-around (seventh place).

Danielle Wall was the team's lone competitor in the 11-year-old division and her beautiful floor routine earned her a 9.2 and a 9th place medal. In the 8-10 year old division, Tais Burgess-Allen and Sadia Wilson finished second and third on vaulting with a 9.25 and a 9.20 respectively. Zekiah Lewis also medaled on vaulting, notching a 9.05 for seveth place. Wilson again earned Bermuda's highest all-around score, a 35.875 for sixth place.

The team coaches were elated by the gymnasts' performances, as Coach Nelligan said: “We were hopeful that the girls would finally compete at the level they are capable of, but you never know how a competition will play out.

“At our two earlier meets this year (Baltimore in December and Chicago in February) we had a few standout routines but also lots of mistakes. This weekend the girls really pulled together and all stuck their skills.

“I think we only had four or five falls out of 48 level seven routines. That is exactly how we need to be progressing as we move towards Island Games.”

Nelligan admits that the preparation for the Manhattan Classic was a bit different from the earlier meets.

“By this point, the gymnasts have put in the hard work in conditioning and acquiring their skills. So we were able to put more time in the finishing touches pointed toes, straight legs, smiling to the crowd. We also worked on our team spirit leading up to this meet. One thing we asked the team to do was learn one dance move in each gymnast's routine.

“During the meet, the team lines up along the side of the floor, and the whole group does this ‘signature move' along with the gymnast competing. It gives the gymnast on the floor a sense that she is not out there by herself, but as part of a team which supports her. And for the team on the side, it gives them something fun to do instead of just waiting and being nervous! Our athletes really came together as a true team and their enthusiasm was rewarded with the Manhatan Classic Spirit Award. I can't wait to see what they can achieve this summer at the Island Games.”

The gymnastic team's next activity will be a Jump-A-Thon fundraiser on Saturday, March 19th. The team will set up a trampoline outside City Hall and jump continuously from 8.30-5.30pm.

The funds raised will go towards supporting this summer's Island Games team. The trip will be a “costly yet invaluable experience” for the gymnasts according to Nelligan, as they prepare for Bermuda's Island Games in 2013.

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Published March 11, 2011 at 1:00 am (Updated March 11, 2011 at 9:05 am)

Gymnasts return with impressive gold medal haul

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