Jamaican gymnasts return in high spirits after Canadian outing

Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

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Despite the absence of senior representative Mackenzie Robinson, Jamaica's Junior Development Gymnastics Team was not to be left out of the spotlight as they produced creditable performances at the Gymnix International in Montreal, Canada, on Saturday.

The Level six to Level 10 representatives complemented the performances of their junior counterparts, who established a number of gold ribbon performances at the Strathcona Challenge in Edmonton a week earlier.

That Level One to Level Three team shook off their pre-tournament jitters on their way to sweeping all four age group categories in Level Three competition.

The contingent, led by National Gymnastics Federation (NGF) President Nicole Grant-Brown, returned to the island yesterday in high spirits, having gained invaluable experience from the outing.

Over 115 teams from 25 countries including Argentina, Belgium, Bermuda, Canada, Italy, Japan, England, Puerto Rico, Russia, and Germany converged in Montreal for the Gymnix International, making it one of the largest meets in that region.

“Our gymnasts have been exposed to some of the top elite gymnasts and competition in each of those categories through this meet and organisers, as well as competitors, were amazed at the quality and competitive spirit of our Jamaican gymnasts,” Grant-Brown told the Jamaica Observer from her base in Canada.

Grant-Brown revealed that the Canadian-born Robinson had some issues with her coach, who had an emergency and as such was not able to attend. But she lauded the performances of the other gymnasts who held fast in her absence.

In Level Six competition, Alexia Renault placed 12th all around in a field of 30 competitors with a score of 35.625, with Asasia Malcolm (32.825) finishing 18th all around in a pool of 25. India Shirley (35.975) and Mikalia Virgo (33.150) were 12th and 24th from a pool of 26 and 29 competitors, respectively.

Jamilia Duffus (36.200) and Adana Johnson (34.900) were 14th and 17th, respectively, in Level 7, while Kiara Richmond, who was third on beam, placed fifth all around in Level 10 with a score of 33.850.

Meanwhile, in Level Nine, Naztasia-Simone Jubitana (31.991) was 11th all around and Elizabeth Street, who was first on vault, placed 15th all around with a score of 31.050. Another Level Nine representative, Diamond Kinard was unable to compete due to an injury she sustained prior to the start of competition.

“We are very pleased with the performances of the girls, who have never been to a meet this big. The set-up mimics World Championships and exposes them to the kind of warm-up (1hr 30mins of warm-up) and prep required before competing.

“They were able to quickly adopt as the warm-up was in a totally different gym from where they compete, so some only got to use the equipment during their competition,” Grant-Brown shared.

“Mistakes were what separated the scores as our girls looked great, and we are pleased to know that we are moving in the right direction. This meet will help our girls to better understand that a small mistake can drop them to the bottom of the pack, especially with all the competitors at the meet being really good gymnasts,” she added.

With the gymnasts competing simultaneously in different gyms, coach Gregory Shelnutt from Georgia assisted the Jamaica team along the way and he was also pleased with what he saw on display.

“I was honoured to have had the opportunity to work with the Jamaican gymnastics team in Montreal this past week; I feel that the team did an outstanding job and performed amazingly well.

“Several of the kids were ranked very high against others at the competition, which was truly an international competition. I hope that the Jamaican team continue to have these opportunities to compete at a high level because it will only make them better in representing their country in fine fashion,” Shelnutt noted.

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