Local gymnastics earned valuable insight at an American camp.
Cayman’s top junior gymnasts – Morgan Lloyd, Sami Peene and Raegan Rutty, along with coach Kelley Paz – were invited to attend the 2014 Pan-American Junior Development Camp at the U.S. National Training Center in Huntsville, Texas. The camp gave these young gymnasts the ability to measure their strength, skill and artistry against 43 of the best juniors from the U.S., Canada and 15 other countries in South and Central America and the Caribbean.
Under the direction of U.S. Olympic coach Valeri Liukin, the girls completed two three-hour sessions each day, rotating through each of the four disciplines. They also refined routines in sessions with Antonia Markova, choreographer for the U.S. Women’s national team. Lloyd said the camp was an enjoyable experience.
“It was an amazing experience to get to go to the PAGU training camp,” Lloyd said. “The facility was great, and the coaches were awesome. I enjoyed being at the camp with Sami and Raegan since this was the first time we attended an international event as a team.”
Lloyd is arguably the most accomplished gymnast of the group, having represented Cayman this year at numerous events. The highlights were personal bests at the Gymnix International Invitational in Montreal in March, the Junior Pan American Championships in Aracaju, Brazil later that month and a solid showing at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China back in August.
Lloyd will compete as a senior for the first time in 2015 and is aiming to qualify for the PanAm Games and the Island Games next summer.
The camp was the first international opportunity for Lloyd’s younger teammates, who will also be vying for spots on the Island Games team. Rutty is a student at Cayman International School and trains with Lloyd under coach Paz at Motions Unlimited gymnastics studio. Rutty trains about 20 hours a week and has won a number of titles at invitational meets in the U.S. and the Caribbean.
When asked about the camp, Rutty said, “It was an amazing opportunity to work with some of the best coaches in the world and to train with so many great gymnasts.”
Peene is a former Cayman Prep student and now attends IMG Academy in Florida where she follows a rigorous training schedule under coaches Laura and David Parraga at Lakewood Ranch Gymnastics. Peene said, “It was an incredible place where it felt like there were no limits. I was encouraged to push myself out of my comfort zone and I came home with new skills.”
Lloyd, Peene and Rutty – along with Cayman’s top junior male gymnast, Igor Magalhaes – will complete the first qualification test for the 2015 season in Cayman later this month. The Cayman Islands Gymnastics Association, the sport’s local governing body, says the young athletes “continue to raise the bar for themselves and the standard of the sport for the Cayman Islands.”