Progress in leaps and bounds

Fresh star talent bodes well for a
sport. It speaks to its growth and its potential to bring glory to a nation.

Many sports on island can boast that
and the latest is gymnastics. With less than a year under their belts a group
of boys did Cayman proud in Tampa.

At the recent Gasparilla Classic in
Tropicana Field five youngsters won first place overall for their division. The
Cayman team consisted of Marco Elverdal, Mikha’il Grant, Jackson Kirkconnell,
Robert Rutkowski and Christopher Touhey.

The boys team was the first male
gymnastics squad to compete for Cayman. They had been training three times a
week for over a month at Motions Unlimited gym in George Town under the eyes of Romanian Sorin

All would nab first place in seven team
events: vault, parallel bars, high bar, floor, pommel horse, rings and
all-around. In the individual events all of the boys had at least one first
place finish.

Those results speak well of the
youngsters (who came together just ahead of the Holiday Showcase event last
December) and makes head coach Kelley Paz feel very proud.

“The boys did an amazing job. 
We owe all of the credit to the wonderful job that coach Rad has done with
them.  It is always rewarding for coach and athlete alike when all of the
hard work pays off. 

“I am really happy with the team’s
performance as a whole.  It was also a big improvement for the girls from
our last competition.”

In addition to the boys team Cayman
sent a group of 15 girls who competed across different skill levels. Accompanying
the boys were Destiny Campbell, Fiona Cockhill, Hilary Cockhill, Giselle Ebanks,
Arielle Farley, Jade Hernandez, Lauren Hill, Abigail Lindsay, Jessica Lloyd, Morgan
Lloyd, Chanel Parchment, Sami Peene, Raegan Rutty, Katie Scott and Haley

All of the girls scored high for
Cayman as they finished no lower than fifth out of the 20 odd teams that

Rutty, Ebanks, Farley, Campbell and
Fiona Cockhill formed the level three team that placed second in the bars,
fourth in the beam, third in the floor and fifth all around.

Peene, Morgan Lloyd, Parchment,
Wilkom, Lindsay, Hernandez and Jessica Lloyd formed the level four team that
came second in the bars, fourth in the beam, fourth in the floor and fifth all

The level five team of Hilary
Cockhill, Scott and Hill placed fourth in the bars, fourth in the beam, fourth
in the floor and fifth in the all around.

Paz went on to talk about the level
of unison the youth showed and how their performance attracted interest for

“There was such a feeling of
team camaraderie as they all supported each other throughout the competition,”
Paz said. “I would have to say that our younger athletes really held there own
at this meet.  They are the ones with the least amount of competition experience
and yet they competed as if they had been doing this for years. 

“To go into a competition of this
size and take home so many awards as our boys and girls did is truly impressive.
We were asked a lot of questions about life on the island. We met some coaches
who had been here on cruises and truly loved the island. I think there was some
surprised reaction to a small team with such limited competition experience
coming out so strong.  We are looking forward to improving some more and
having more successful showings.”

It’s not clear at this point when
the next local event will be but as Paz states the youngsters will be spending
just as much time in the gym.

“Now is the time of year when we
decide who will move up from the level they have already competed in.  It
is a transition period and there are new skills to be mastered before you can
move up.

“Of course as the levels go higher
the skills get harder.  We will be incorporating some new training
techniques and additional hours in the gym.

“We will also continue improving on
strength and flexibility as this is a constant in gymnastics through out all levels. 
We have also been working on a travel trip to a camp this summer, which would
be in Pennsylvania
at the end of August.

“We would really like to expand our
team and continue to travel to competitions. Our hope is that these
articles will raise awareness and bring more interest to the sport of gymnastics
on the island. 

“Motions Unlimited is
the only gymnastics school in Cayman and we are constantly trying to find ways
to get more kids into the gym. Gymnastics is an amazing sport which can carry
over into so many other aspects of children’s lives.  The athleticism
as well as the self discipline and mental toughness are
all beneficial.  We will continue to promote our sport in Cayman and
look forward to a bright future for gymnastics.”