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Upward movement!

Gymnastics boss Grant-Brown pleased with sport’s progress despite funding letdown

While it was not all smooth sailing for Jamaica’s gymnastics this year, the association’s head Nicole Grant-Brown expressed satisfaction with how things transpired for the most parts.

For Grant-Brown, the fact that the positives outweigh the negatives, in her assessment, speaks volumes of the progress made in the sport’s development locally, which is a trend she intends to maintain going forward.

Among the bright sides of the Jamaica Gymnastics Association’s (JAGA’s) accomplishments are the senior female team’s qualification to next year’s Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, coupled with British-born gymnast Tyesha Mattis’s berth to the World Championships.

“The visit of the FIG [International Gymnastics Federation] technical committee and hosting their meetings here in Jamaica was definitely a high point for us as well as the visit of the Pan American Gymnastics Union president.

“Those were major positives because they will definitely open some doors for us into hosting events and so on because now they see what we have here in Jamaica and the hospitality that we showed the technical committee, who are the lawmakers in gymnastics, will certainly go a far way,” Grant-Brown told the Jamaica Observer from Colombia, where she accompanied athletes to the Pan American Youth Age Group Championships.

On that note, Grant-Brown declared that her administration will not relent in its mission to make gymnastics one of the most attractive sport not only to youngsters, but to Jamaicans, both locally and abroad.

She pointed to the junior team’s outstanding performance at the just-concluded Pan American Youth Age Group tournament in Colombia as a perfect case in point of those intentions, which includes presenting athletes with a platform to achieve the intended goals.

That team comprised Zuri Matandara-Clarke, 11; Sukhuri-Shay Smith and Savanna Adam, both nine years old; 10-year-old Mariah Gordon and Cristiyana Martin; and Emelia Sharpe, 13.

“The girls did really awesome and we are very amazed at how fantastic and well composed they performed. They copped second place in the team awards and also won silver and bronze in individual events.

“Also having Sukhuri-Shay Smith win on vault and bars in level one category as well as Cristiyana in level two taking second place on vault as well as bars are massive achievements,” Grant-Brown explained.

“Those were very important for us because it shows that we are on the right path in terms of what we are trying to accomplish and we just need to stick to the fundamentals in order to continue progressing,” she added.

Essentially, the president’s sentiments are geared towards a holistic approach, which, she says, will require a significant injection of funding to add more life into the growth and development of the sport locally.

“We are indeed super excited that we came this far in our gymnastics development as these performances by our elite juniors are very promising. Mariah Gordon, the standout gymnast for the team championships, displayed such strong mental and physical strength because while in pain from a back injury she pushed through with almost flawless routines, contributing scores on three of the four apparatus,” Grant-Brown shared.

“So, again, it says alot about where we are at and can’t help but celebrate the fact that we had a mostly awesome year. The only low point was qualifying for the World Championships and not being able to compete due to a lack of funding. That was disappointing and we hope going forward we can get the necessary support so that we won’t have a situation like that next time around,” she noted.

That said, she expressed gratitude to Sports Development Foundation (SDF), Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), Ministry of Sport, Elite Diagnostic, the Peachtree Centre, and, more importantly the coaches and parents for their contribution to JAGA’s successes this year.

JAGA President Nicole Grant-Brown share a photo opportunity with athletes Sukhuri-Shay Smith (left) and Savanna Adams at the PanAm Youth Tournament in Colombia.

British-born gymnast Tyesha Mattis qualified for the World Championships earlier this year, but was unable to attend due to a lack of funding.

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