Caymanian gymnast Sami Peene took home the bronze on bars in her age group at the Florida State Championships.
She posted a personal best score of 36.275 at the event, taking sixth place all-around. Her performance at the championships qualified her for the Florida all-star team that will compete at the regionals at the end of April, where qualifying gymnasts from Florida will face off against Georgia, Alabama, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana.
Peene, 12, is a former Cayman Prep student and member of the Motions Unlimited gymnastics team who left Cayman in 2013 to join Lakewood Ranch Gymnastics in Bradenton, Florida. Peene transferred to IMG Academy, which provides student athletes with a flexible academic schedule that allows her to train at Lakewood Ranch approximately 20 hours each week and also follow a rigorous academic college prep program.
When asked about her experience, Peene says, ”It’s been really hard to be away from my brothers, my mom and dad, and my best friends, but I have learned so much from my coaches, David and Laura Parraga.”
Peene aims to qualify for the national team that will represent the Cayman Islands at the Island Games in 2015 with Cayman teammates, Morgan Lloyd and Raegan Rutty.
In addition to supporting national level gymnasts competing internationally for the Cayman Islands, the Cayman Islands Gymnastics Association also invests in programs to encourage the development of local athletes. Fundraising efforts, supported by local businesses, have allowed the association to offer gymnastics scholarships to promising young athletes. Olympic Solidarity funding – accessed with the help of the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee – has been used to run programs that promote the Olympic values and gymnastics for groups of students attending government schools.