Jamaica Gymnastic Association (JAGA) president Nicole Grant-Brown is delighted that Jamaica School of Gymnastics and Westmoreland Gymnastics produced some top performances in what was one of the biggest occasions of their careers at the just-concluded Yamilet Pena Classic in the Dominican Republic.
A total of 29 gymnasts from Jamaica School of Gymnastics competed at Recreational, USAG Compulsory Levels One to Four, as well as USA Gymnastics Advance Levels Six to Eight, while Westmoreland had five competitors at Recreational and USAG Levels One and Two.
Approximately 300 gymnasts and 19 clubs from over 14 countries including Mexico, Aruba, Panama and United States took part at the two-day event which ended on Sunday.
The top All Around competition was among the many awards won by Jamaica School of Gymnastics leaving host Dominican Republic to play second fiddle.
Leah-Paige Phillips, Alayna Wilson and Jade-Ann James topped Level Four, as the team of Jurn'e Davis, Kamaria Smith, Janay Howel and Jesanique Scott copped bronze in Level Six.
However, Leanna Blake, Arianna Richardson, Savanna Adams, Danique Meek and Sukhuri-Shay Smith, finished tops in Level Seven, while the Level Eight team of Zuri-Matandara-Clarke, Mariah Gordon, Elyssa Alexander and Natashley Prehay placed third.
Grant-Brown attributed Jamaica School of Gymnastics' success to its state-of-the-art gymnasium, which has been serving the gymnastics community well since 2019.
"The club has grown and has used much of the time during the COVID-19 pandemic to train our coaches to be more vigilant when it comes to technique and gymnast's physical and mental preparation," Grant-Brown explained.
"As coach of the Levels Seven and Eight at the JSG club, along with coaches Nadeen Whyte (Recreational, Four to Six) and Kerieon Grant (Levels One to Three), we are elated that all the girls went out and did the best they could knowing that they were competing internationally, for the first time in two years, as a club.
"They were up against more seasoned competitors and this made them very nervous but they went out and gave their best and for that we are super proud of them," she told the Jamaica Observer.
Westmoreland Gymnastics' Lowaynia Myers, who placed third on vault with 9.85 and fifth All Around with a score of 37.7 at the Recreational level, was among the top age group awardees.
Leanna Blake in the 12-and-over Level Seven age group, Danique Meek in the nine-to-11 age group and Level Eight's Zuri Matandara- Clarke were among the nine top age group awardees for Jamaica School of Gymnastics.
This, Grant-Brown credited to the extensive work done by Whyte and Grant throughout the programme.
"They put in place a very new and technical programme for the girls and it really showed in their execution. They also put in a lot of work to make this tour a success.
"Westmoreland Gymnastics is our sister club and we would like to really congratulate Coach Natanja Morris for the hard work put into the preparation of the five girls who have done very well," Grant-Brown said, while expressing gratitude to the parents for their role in the successful outing.
"We must thank the parents who helped to fund this competition, as without their input, it would not have been possible. We are truly pleased and must give our wonderful parents the thumbs up for being super supportive — especially those who travelled with the team to assist where they can," she ended.
— Sherdon Cowan