Sweet redemption: emotional Mattis revels in historic uneven bars medal for Jamaica after bumpy journey

By June 30, 2023
Tyesha Mattis shows off her historic bronze medal at the CAC Games in El Salvador. (Inset) An emotional Mattis is embraced by her mother Charmaine Clarke Tyesha Mattis shows off her historic bronze medal at the CAC Games in El Salvador. (Inset) An emotional Mattis is embraced by her mother Charmaine Clarke contributed

Following an underwhelming performance at the PanAm Gymnastics Championships in Colombia, Tyesha Mattis promised to bounce back better and stronger. 

Thought that strong comeback didn't translate into a Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games All-Around medal as she would have hoped, the English-born artistic gymnast took home the next best thing from El Salvador –an historic bronze medal in the uneven bars competition.

For Mattis claiming Jamaica's first-ever medal in the event at the Games with a score of 12.750, was an emotional experience given the many setbacks she faced each time she enters a major competition with high expectations.

Mexico's Paulino Campos (13.400) and Panama's Andrea Navas (13.050) were the top two in the uneven bars, while Trinidad and Tobago’s Annalise Newman-Achee (12.200) was fourth.

Along with that bronze medal, Mattis also contested the balance beam All-Around finals, where she finished seventh and eighth with scores of 10.350 and 47.850 respectively. Mattis’s sister, China also contested the All-Around final but didn’t see it through to the end, while Newman-Achee placed sixth with a score of 48.750.

Campos (12.650) and Navas (12.000), again took the top two spots in the balance beam, with another Mexican Alexa Moreno (11.550) in third. However, Navas topped the All-Around battle with 50.500, ahead of Moreno (49.650) and another Panamanian Alexandra Heron (49.450).

“Overall, I feel like I had an amazing competition, and I was so impressed with how I did, making history being the first Jamaican gymnast to medal at CAC Games. I am also very happy that I had my mum and my sister out there with me supporting me and I’m so impressed with my sister making AA finals as well with me. I just can’t wait for another competition to get out there and represent Jamaica again and do a bit better than I did this time,” Mattis told Sportsmax.tv.

Jamilia Duffus and lone male gymnast Canada-born Elel Wahrmann Baker were also among Jamaica’s representatives at the Games.

The 24-year-old Mattis, has always been a prominent figure among Jamaica’s standout performers since switching allegiance last year, and after months without making a podium at numerous events, she pointed to an overwhelming sense of redemption, which resulted in her tearful wave to the crowd after competition.

“It has been a very emotional rollercoaster because I’ve worked so hard over the years, coming back from injury before joining team Jamaica and then not always executing in competition, like I do in training. So after having such a bad performance in Colombia a few weeks ago, I was just excited to make a comeback at this competition and perform great routines,” she shared.

“I know I am more than capable of doing great things, and I just need to trust that my body can do the work and again, not putting too much pressure on myself. It can be a bummer when you work so hard in the gym and when you really want to put out your best, you make mistakes, so I am pretty excited about this accomplishment, I’ve learned from those mistakes and this is now a step in the right direction,” Mattis added.

That direction is towards the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup in September where Mattis hopes to prove that this medal stemmed from her immense potential and unflinching desire to make it big for Jamaica, as oppose to a hefty dose of good fortune.

To achieve that, and by extension, possibly qualify for next year’s Olympic Games in France, she knows it will require more solid performances.

“I am really looking forward to a better performance next time out at the World Cup in September. Looking forward to trying some different routines there and putting out more of my skills as I know I have so much more up my sleeve and I have always said that the more I compete internationally, the more confident I feel,” Mattis noted.

“So, I can’t wait to compete at that World Cup. I’m feeling very motivated and excited about the future,” she ended.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

Related items

  • 'I actually threw up a few times': Salmon overcomes nerves to book first individual Olympic spot 'I actually threw up a few times': Salmon overcomes nerves to book first individual Olympic spot

    To say that 400m hurdler Shiann Salmon made a remarkable breakthrough when she secured an individual spot on Jamaica’s team to the Paris Olympic Games, would be an understatement.

    After just missing out on a spot to the Tokyo 2020 showpiece –for which she was listed as a reserve to Rhonda Whyte, Leah Nugent, and Janieve Russell –Salmon vowed to right that wrong on this occasion, and that she did.

    She produced one of her finest performances in recent times to place third in a new personal best of 53.71s, behind Rushell Clayton (52.51s) and Janieve Russell (53.33s) at the JAAA National Senior Championships recently.

    “I feel so good. I'm elated. I put the work in to achieve this and I always told myself that I wasn’t going to leave Jamaica as an alternate for the Olympic Games, and I did just that. This was my moment, and I couldn't let anything hold me back, so I'm very happy,” Salmon told SportsMax.TV.

    Salmon’s path to achieving the Olympic feat was by no means smooth, as faced intense pressure and anxiety leading up to her qualification race, so much so that she was physically sick before stepping onto the National Stadium track.

    Despite these challenges, she managed to harness her nerves and deliver an efficient performance that solidified her place among the elite athletes set to represent Jamaica.

    “I was incredibly nervous before the race that I actually threw up a few times,” Salmon admitted.

    Salmon is all smiles after accomplishing the Olympic qualifying feat.

    “But like I said, I did the work and so I just kept reminding myself ‘you can do it, three persons cannot beat you,’ and I knew I had to push through, so I'm very happy,” she added.

    Beyond her focus and determination, the highlight of Salmon’s display was an improved backstretch execution, an aspect of the race she pointed out she and her coaches have rigorously worked on in training.

    While her qualification is a significant achievement, the 25-year-old and her coaches are not resting on their laurels. Instead, they intend to continue identifying areas for improvement to enhance her competitiveness in the closing stages of the race.

    “Sometimes I don’t execute my races properly, I tend to sleep on the backstretch and the race gets away from me and then I try to finish strong. But for the National Championships, I was just reminding myself mid-race, ‘do not sleep, do not sleep, do not let them go too far,’ And that's what I did,” she shared.

    “My coaches also talked to me about, and we have been focusing a lot on executing a proper race strategy because it's crucial for me to maintain my speed and form through that part of the race to ensure I finish strong. So we’re working on refining my technique and endurance to make sure I'm at my best when it counts the most,” Salmon noted.

    Having represented Jamaica with distinction, winning multiple individual and relay medals at the youth and senior levels, including NACAC Championships, Commonwealth Games, and the World Championships, Salmon would very much love to add an Olympic medal to her accolades.

    Salmon crosses the line ahead of Rushell Clayton in a previous race.

    However, Salmon knows that winning a medal in Paris will by no means be easy, and as such, she is more focused on building on her strengths to continue giving of her best for the country at the highest level.

    “Honestly, I feel like making the team was the hardest part. That was the aim, and I'm on the team, so I'm just going to take it one step at a time from here. I just have to go through the rounds at the Olympics, execute them, do what my coaches tell me to do and I'll be fine,” she declared.

     “Anything that comes with that, I'll be grateful. Just to be a part of the team is a big enough accomplishment for me and I'm just super happy to be representing my country on the biggest stage of my career, and I can't ask for anything more,” Salmon ended.

    NB: The Paris Olympic Games scheduled for July 26 to August 11, will be live on SportsMax and the SportsMax App.

  • Former Reggae Boyz Head coach Hallgrimsson lands top job with Republic of Ireland Former Reggae Boyz Head coach Hallgrimsson lands top job with Republic of Ireland

    Weeks after parting ways with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Heimir Hallgrimsson secured the top job as the Republic of Ireland's new manager.

    The former senior Reggae Boyz coach, who resigned his post following a failed Copa America campaign, was the surprise selection by the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) to lead the country's football forward. He replaces interim manager John O'Shea, who took charge of the team after Stephen Kenny departed the post last November.

    Hallgrimsson, 57, will get a baptism of fire of sorts, as his first assignment with Ireland will be Nations League action against England in September. Ironically, his tenure with the Reggae Boyz started similarly, albeit with a friendly against World Champions Argentina.

    Still, the Icelandic coach, who led Iceland when they eliminated England during the 2016 Euro 2016 Championships,  seems ready to hit the ground running, with eyes on the 2026 World Cup.

    "Ireland is rightly a proud footballing nation which has consistently produced talented players and enjoyed many memorable moments at major international tournaments. We have a young and exciting team that has genuine potential. I am looking forward to working closely with the players to help coach and guide them towards improved performances and results, ensuring we qualify and compete at major tournaments on a regular basis," Hallgrimsson shared.

    "We have important and exciting games coming up in the UEFA Nations League later this year and a massive FIFA World Cup qualification campaign coming up next year. It is my responsibility to coach, prepare and develop our team as best as possible to deliver results on the pitch and to make our supporters happy and proud," he added.

    Meanwhile, FAI director of football Marc Canham said Hallgrimsson has been on their radar for quite some time.

    "Earlier this year, we identified Heimir as our number one candidate whose capabilities and experience aligned with our criteria. Not only does Heimir have significant experience at international level with two different countries, but crucially he also has a track record of qualifying for major international tournaments and taking teams up the FIFA world rankings," Canham said.

  • Jamaican athlete Tamarri Lindo and family granted one-year reprieve from deportation in Canada Jamaican athlete Tamarri Lindo and family granted one-year reprieve from deportation in Canada

    In a significant turn of events, Jamaican athlete Tamarri Lindo and his family have been granted a one-year reprieve from deportation from Canada following a public outcry and concerns over potential political persecution. The announcement was made by the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change on Tuesday.

    Tamarri Lindo, who moved to Toronto with his family at the age of 15, is now 20 years old and has recently achieved national acclaim by winning a bronze medal in the 110-metre hurdles. After completing high school in Toronto, he joined York University. The family has received a temporary resident permit from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), allowing them to stay in Canada for another year.

    "After much tribulation and stress, finally receiving a temporary resident permit from IRCC, allowing my family and me to stay in Canada for a year, feels like a breath of fresh air," said George Lindo, Tamarri's father. "At the same time, this should not have happened, and should not happen to anyone. I urge the government to keep their promise and regularize all undocumented people."

    The Lindo family fled Jamaica in 2019, fearing political persecution due to George Lindo’s involvement with the opposition People's National Party. Lindo has survived three assassination attempts in Jamaica, further highlighting the dangers they faced.

    Aidan Simardone, the family's lawyer, expressed relief at the temporary reprieve but criticized the delay in granting the family their status. "I also know that there are many others like them who are deported and killed. To stop this from happening again, the government must grant permanent resident status to undocumented people arriving in Canada to make a better life," Simardone told Canadian media.

    In an interview with CBC Toronto, Simardone revealed the emotional toll of the situation. "We're really happy ... it's a huge relief for all of us," he said, noting the immense stress of the looming deportation and the extensive hours he dedicated to the case.

    Simardone emphasized that this case is not an example of Canada's immigration system functioning effectively, pointing out that people from Africa, the Caribbean, and the Middle East face more scrutiny compared to those from Europe. "Situations like this happen all the time," he said. "I hope that this is a wake-up call for the public and our government as well."

    The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change highlighted the significant public support for the Lindo family, with nearly 2,000 people writing letters to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Immigration Minister Marc Miller, urging them to stop the deportation.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.