Jamaican gymnasts face new challenges
FIVE gymnasts, three boys and two girls, are hoping to represent Jamaica at two international competitions in the coming weeks.
All are from Nishida's Gymnastics and Fitness Center, based near Cross Roads and run by Japan-born Shin Nishida, who has made Jamaica his home.
Young teens Jamin Melbourne, Daniel Williams and Jiovannua Jackson are seeking to participate in the Whitlow International Invitational from January 21-23 in Orlando, Florida. Orlando Metro Gymnastics will host that competition.
For the girls, eight-year-old Paige Burke and seven-year-old Alyssa Chin are trying to take part in The Cruise Classic, hosted by Park Avenue Gymnastics, in Cooper City, Florida from February 11-12.
Nishida Gymnastics created a buzz on the local circuit in 2009 when Williams and Jackson, aged 11 at the time, won their events at the 21st staging of the Gasparilla Classic in Tampa, Florida.
With boys now 13 years old, Nishida is grooming them for major competition in three years which he believes they will be ready for.
"We have been training a team for our goal of competing in world-class gymnastics competitions, specifically for the 2015 World Championships and the 2016 Olympic Games.
"The same natural athletic ability that has enabled Jamaicans (combined of course with excellent training) to achieve so much in world athletics is used in gymnastics. These gymnasts are expected to be the pioneers in Jamaica's entry onto the world stage in this sport," Nishida said.
He notes that the girls are showing the "potential to be higher level gymnasts and are now ready to compete in international competitions".
However Nishida explained that the centre and parents of the athletes had been facing financial difficulties in covering the costs associated with travelling, accommodation, and entry fees.
"We are looking for sponsorship," he said.