Overseas-based senior gymnasts inspiring locals during COVID-19 challenge


Overseas-based senior gymnasts inspiring locals during COVID-19 challenge

Sunday, April 05, 2020

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Even as the world continues to be ravaged by the Covid-19, many athletes are still being urged to maintain their fitness levels by their coaches and sports administrators.

For the most part, this is easier said than done.

This is made particularly difficult due to limitation of space, among a host of other reasons which also includes motivation.

But there is one sport that is overcoming the problems associated with seclusion through innovation — that sport is gymnastics.

In 2016, Toni-Ann Williams became the first Jamaican to qualify for and represent the country at the Olympic Games, while Danusia Francis became the second athlete to qualify for the Games which should have been held this year, but has been postponed to next summer in Tokyo, Japan.

To have athletes qualify for back-to-back Olympic Games in what is considered to be a minor sport in the country, is a big deal and these athletes, along with their teammates, are determined to keep the trend going.

The Senior A Team, which consists of Francis, Williams, Reiss Beckford and Caleb Faulkner, who all have coaching experience, have come up with an initiative that has had a major impact on the local-based junior athletes in recent weeks, says president of the Jamaica Amateur Gymnastics Association (JAGA), Nicole Grant-Brown.

“The seniors send out a video demonstrating the drills and exercises with the correct technique and outline to the gymnasts why they are doing that particular conditioning exercise. The kids then execute the instructions at home with the help of their parents and then submit their videos, which are then uploaded to the sportzz_nation Instagram page and the seniors are tagged.

“The seniors then comment on the videos with corrections or commendations, and then based on the corrections, the kids redo the exercise and resubmit,” she explained.

Grant-Brown lauded the part being played by the seniors in the development of gymnastics on the island on a whole. She also explained that it has been a very big source of motivation for the youngsters.

“I, myself, am very pleased with the initiative that they have come together as a team and decided on. This shows teamwork and the real interest that they have in the development of the sports locally.

“This is a very good way for the seniors to play their part in the development of the local athletes since they are not able to be here in person. This also motivates the gymnasts to work harder and they are very keen on the instructions.

“They wait in anticipation for the comments from the seniors. Many local gymnasts who were not motivated to work at home are now doing their exercises at home and submitting their videos,” said Grant-Brown.

This initiative is part of the “continuity programme” of JAGA as it seeks to find unique ways to ensure the sport develops beyond the current crop of athletes that now represent the Jamaican flag.

“We need continuity in the sport and the seniors are tasked with the responsibility to ensure that before they bow out, as we all will do one day, they can easily identify others who are more than competent to take their place.

“The gymnastics community is very pleased with the initiative of the seniors and are happy they are working together to play their part in lifting the sport,” Grant-Brown concluded.

— Dwayne Richards

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