Three hour training sessions, little or no junk food, pull ups with ankle weights, climbing the rope with only your hands while your feet are sticking straight out with ankle weights, being told to get hollow, pull up your chest, roll under you butt, get the ice, 7.30am Saturday practices, late Friday night practices, chalk up and stick it…
These are not words most children can take on a constant basis, but these are the daily mantra of the Motions Unlimited coaches as they continue to help nourish Cayman’s gymnasts to the elite level.
Local gymnasts wouldn’t have it any other way. On school and public holidays, they can often be heard in the gym or at least begging the coaches to let them into the gym to practice and improve their skills. Their motivation and natural high comes from the accomplishment of their individual goals.
These accomplishments were seen in two recent consecutive weekends in Florida to compete; at the Gasparilla Classic in St. Petersberg over 25-27 February and the Tim Rand meet in Fort Lauderdale on 1 March in Ft. Lauderdale. Both meets had a host of American and international teams from as far as Trinidad.
Two of our youngest athletes, Roger Cockhill and Berkley Ponce, who competed for the first time ever, both won All Around Champions at their respective levels. A feat that was hailed after many hours of practice with coach Sorin who trains both the girls (vault and bars) and boys team, and coach Heather whose primary focus is the girls.
The boys team maintained their usual standard at the Gasparilla meet as spectators watched an impressively strong Igor Maghalaes garner third place in bars and Mik’kail Grant a second place on the parallel bars. Team-mates Keifer Ebanks and Christopher Touhey also made several personal bests at the Gasparilla Classic.
Joining their teammates in success, Cayman can be equally proud of Sami Peane, who also won All Around Level 5 champ at the Gasparilla meet and tied for two at the Tim Rand meet, just a few short months after returning home from a year’s leave in Ireland.
Leah Alberga, Level 3, who had scored personal bests in each apparatus, clinched the second place All Around title just behind Berkley in the Tim Rand meet after winning beam and second place position on the vault.
Joining the two all around champs with several personal bests were Kaylee Melleano who earned third place vault and Kylie Porter who earned a second place floor. Arielle Farley and Fiona Cockhill also made personal bests on vault during these meets. All level 5 girls made improvements in their scores this year on the two meets.
Hailey Willkom earned a nice third place bars position at the Tim Rand meet. Morgan Lloyd earned impressive second place vault and beam positions at Gasparilla, while Raegan Rutty earned a bars personal best at Tim Rand and a second place vault position at Gasparilla.
Destiny Campbell and Giselle Ebanks also made personal bests on the beam during these meets. Lauren Hill, level 7 competitor, earned a personal best on the vault at the Tim Rand and Katie Scott also level 7 had personal bests in vault (tied for 4), bars, and floor at the Ft. Lauderdale meet.
The tremendous dedication to maintain discipline and determination to compete gymnastics in the Cayman Islands is no small feat. These gymnasts spend between 8-16 hours per week-depending upon their age, battling many obstacles to stay focused for only two or three meets a year.
One goal of the gymnastics association is to help raise enough funds through Cayman Airways miles donations, Corporate sponsorships and team fundraising initiatives to be able to send these youngsters to more meets and develop this amazing sport in Cayman.
If anyone would like to donate miles to the Cayman Islands Gymnastics Association, donate through the Cayman Airways website, or contact the executive committee on [email protected]