Gymnasts aim for international circuit

From left, Raegan Rutty, coach Kelley Paz, Morgan Lloyd and Sami Peene.

Cayman’s top gymnasts wrapped up their regular competitive season in February and have moved on to the international circuit, where they will attempt to qualify for major international events in the second half of 2016.

Sami Peene and Raegan Rutty, Cayman’s junior national hopefuls, concluded their regular season with Motions Unlimited on Feb. 21 at the Gasparilla Classic in St. Petersburg, Florida, where both girls posted strong results in the all-around rankings. On the following weekend, Morgan Lloyd competed in her second provincial qualifier for Ottawa Gymnastics Centre, taking a third place all-around finish in her division.

Lloyd, Peene and Rutty met up in Montreal, Canada, to compete at the Gymnix International competition from March 3-6. The 25th anniversary competition attracted gymnasts from across Canada and the world and marked the start of the qualification process.

Lloyd, 16, who represented Cayman at the Pan Am Games and the World Championships in 2015, hopes to qualify for the Senior Pan American Championships in Bolivia in September.

Having suffered a few injuries in 2015, Lloyd looked strong at Gymnix, taking fourth on bars, and fifth and sixth place on beam and floor, both in a two-way in a tie with Peene, and seventh place all-around.

Peene and Rutty, both 14, represented Cayman at the 2015 Inter-Island Games in Ynys Mon, Wales, and are attempting to qualify to represent Cayman at the Junior Pan American Championships in Bolivia in September and the Junior Commonwealth Gymnastics Championships in Namibia in October. Peene earned a silver medal on bars at Gymnix and placed only 0.125 points behind Lloyd for eighth place all-around. Rutty also had a strong performance on bars, only 0.075 points behind Peene.

Coach Kelley Paz traveled to Gymnix with Peene and Rutty and was pleased with their performance.

“The format at Gymnix is different from the invitational meets. They warm up in a different gym and only get a 30 second ‘touch’ on the competition equipment and they compete on a raised podium in front of the panel of judges. It can be very intimidating, but they adapted and proved that they are ready to take their gymnastics to the next level.”

Pam Collett, a Canada-based international judge who serves as a member of Cayman’s Technical Committee and National Team Selection Committee, took time out of her busy judging schedule at Gymnix to accompany the girls and help with their training and competition sessions.

Collett is confident that the girls will achieve the qualification scores for the 2016 international events, but she would like to see them exceed the set scores as Cayman continues to raise its standards and improve in international rankings.

Collett will work with coach Paz and the girls via video sessions throughout the selection period, which concludes at the end of May, and through to the competitions in the fall.