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.

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