Saturday, February 22, 2020

Gymnastics is a sport that requires hours of practice, but yields great achievements. The practice required is intense and tiring, yet any gymnast would agree that the sport is well worth the effort because the joy of flying through the air at a competition is indescribable.

One of the girls’ gymnastics teams at the United States Gymnastics Development Center in Leonia, NJ, participates in a league called the International Association of Independent Gymnastics Clubs (or IAIGC). A number of girls on this team attend local yeshivas including Frisch, Ma’ayanot, Solomon Schechter, Yeshivat Noam, Yavneh Academy, and Moriah, and work hard to balance the double curriculum with their nightly gymnastics practices. While this league is geared to preparing athletes to participate on collegiate gymnastics teams rather than for an Olympic track, participants tend to opt for the league because it requires less of a time commitment than an Olympic-track league and therefore allows gymnasts to both train at a high level of gymnastics and participate in other extra-curricular activities as well. The most advanced IAIGC gymnasts practice for approximately 15 hours per week, as opposed to the 25 to 30 hours that athletes on an Olympic-track usually train.

Last week, the US Gymnastics Development Center IAIGC team traveled to Orlando, Florida to participate in the IAIGC World Championship. Gymnasts qualify to participate in this competition by excelling at state or regional championships in May. This event attracts participants from throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Bermuda, and South Africa. The league allows gymnasts to compete on one of six levels: copper, bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and premier and gymnasts on all but premier, the most advanced level, participated in the 2014 World Championship. The entire competition lasted a week and each level had an all-around competition where every gymnast performs all four events—floor, uneven parallel bars, balance beam and vault—followed by event finals for each of the four events. The girls who earned the top seven scores on each event during the all-around competition qualified to participate in the event finals for that particular event, and had the chance to become the world champion for their level on that apparatus.

US Gymnastics team members participated in copper, bronze, silver, and gold level competitions. The copper level gymnasts won first place as a team and also received a total of nine individual medals in the all-around competition and the individual event finals. The bronze level team received a total of eight individual medals in the all-around competition and individual event finals, and placed 7th as a team. Although the silver team did not place as a team, the silver level athletes from US Gymnastics received a total of six individual medals. Because there are only two girls from US Gymnastics on the gold level, they were unable to place as a team, but did receive a total of three medals in the individual event finals and the all-around competition.

Following the New Jersey State competition in May, at which the US Gymnastics team members qualified for the world championships, the gymnasts worked harder than ever before to prepare for this competition. Under the amazing guidance of their coaches, Daniel Miranda, Ana Nunes, Alyssa Lopez, and Debora Cardoso, the girls were certainly able to showcase their skills at the 2014 World Championship.

By Shana Adler