Junior gymnasts prepare for international competition

Practice makes perfect: Samantha Peene, left, and Raegan Rutty practice their routines on the balance beam as coaches Michael Malin, Pam Collett (a Brevet judge) and Kelley Paz watch.

While Cayman’s Olympic athletes were competing in Rio, two of the islands’ gymnasts were working hard at home, putting finishing touches on routines in preparation for their international debut.

Samantha Peene and Raegan Rutty have both qualified for the Junior Pan American Gymnastics Championships in Sucre, Bolivia, in September and the Junior Commonwealth Gymnastics Championships in Walvis Bay, Namibia, in October.

As part of the final preparation, Canadian Brevet judge Pam Collett arrived in Cayman on Aug. 17 to evaluate and make final adjustments to routines as part of a three-day clinic at Motions Unlimited.

According to a press release, the clinic was made possible through funding provided by the NatWest Sports Development Programme, which supports member countries of the Island Games Association, finding initiatives to increase participation and improve standards of performance and coaching within the islands.

There were three areas of focus over the three days:

Working with local coaches, qualified under the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympic Program, to advance their knowledge of International Federation of Gymnastics (FIG) rules to help them prepare their athletes for international competition;

Evaluating the routines of Cayman’s national team gymnasts, making adjustments to ensure compliance with FIG rules in preparation for the Junior Pan American Championships and the Junior Commonwealth Championships. These gymnasts will also be put forward for qualification for the 2017 Island Games;

Observing the competitive team gymnasts in Cayman, both girls and boys, and working with the coaches to establish a development plan for the younger gymnasts.

“All five coaches had the opportunity to work with Pam [Collett] to gain an understanding of how FIG scores are derived based on difficulty and execution,” said a press release from the Cayman Islands Gymnastics Association. “Pam reviewed the compositional requirements for each event, the skill values per the Code of Points and the connection values. Pam also discussed the upcoming changes to the FIG rules as they will apply to the next quadrennial.

“Through Pam’s evaluation of the two junior women gymnasts’ routines, corrections and adjustments were made to ensure maximum values are achieved. The coaches were included in the evaluation and benefited from participating in the practical application of the FIG rules.”

Collett also dedicated time to observing the competitive team gymnasts who are working on skill progressions through the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympic program. A total of 28 gymnasts in the program are advancing from last season and more are expected to join the program in September.