JOA, Mayberry Investments, partner to back Gymnastics Strength & Skill Testing Series

By Sports Desk May 14, 2021

There is much hope that the development of Jamaica’s junior gymnastics will spring to another level with the inaugural Mayberry Gymnastics Strength & Skill Testing Series.

More than 100 youngsters, aged five years and older, are participating in the first event in the series, which is scheduled to begin today (Friday, May 14) at 5:00 p.m. and run through to Sunday, May 16, at the National Gymnastics Training Centre, at 1 Slipe Road in Kingston.

The series will take place quarterly for the next four years, courtesy of a joint effort by Mayberry Investments, which have invested one million dollars, the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and the National Gymnastics Federation of Jamaica.

“This event is the first in a series to aid in the national junior development process and will continuously test the readiness of our athletes, as part of a four-year cycle, for the Olympic programme. In other words, this series is critical to the success and growth of our budding gymnasts,” remarked Gary Peart, CEO, Mayberry Investments.

“Mayberry wants to witness the honing of this sort of talent on the local stage so that we can make a big impact on the world stage. Jamaicans are known for being ‘likkle but tallawah’ and this is just another shining example that we are a force to be reckoned with.”

As the main feature, all participants in the training event will be awarded a medal.

“Mayberry is particularly happy that all the athletes involved will be awarded medals at the end of the testing series, because we believe that all efforts are valid, from the smallest to biggest,” Peart said.

Ryan Foster, Secretary General/CEO of the JOA, expressed his delight at the partnership that will bring yet another sport to the forefront of Jamaican athletics.

“The JOA is pleased to have brokered this deal under our JOA/Mayberry partnership that was established in 2019. The sport of gymnastics will be one of the sport that will be representing Jamaica at this summer’s Olympics and we are pleased with the trendsetting work done by President Grant-Brown and her team.

“The synergies between Mayberry and the Jamaica Gymnastics Federation was seamless and one built on developing the next generation of athletes. The JOA is extremely proud of one of our key partners, Mayberry, who has truly bought into our vision of building now for the future,” Foster shared. “They have demonstrated that they are good corporate citizens whose philanthropy has no bounds. We will continue to find avenues for our athletes and members to develop."

All told there will be five sessions, which includes the first that ended at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, followed by a 30-minute awards ceremony. Sessions two, three and four are slated for 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m, 12:15 p.m.-2:30 p.m. and 3:00-5:30 p.m., respectively, on Saturday; while Session five will run from 9:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Sunday. The final half-hour in each session is reserved for awards presentations. 

Former national hockey president and now President of Gymnastics Nicole Grant-Brown praised the effort of their partners and noted the impact of their support.

“Mayberry Investments is shining a light on us that is certainly helping us to have hope. Jamaica Gymnastics is in its growth stage and like any child, we need help to grow and with a good support system we can grow big and strong,” she said.

“We are happy and elated that the vision of the Jamaica Olympic Association is wide enough to recognize that gymnastics, which is seen in Jamaica as a minor sport, requires partnerships of this nature to make it major and will one day be placed in its rightful position as one of Jamaica’s most consistent Olympic sport and most participated by our youth in this country.

“Already we have made two consecutive Olympic Games, 2016 and 2021, and the sport has not yet reached its maturity stage.”

She also noted the strategies involved in carving out this series, which marks the beginning of Jamaica’s junior Olympic programme.

“The skills and strength testing is two to three times per year, which is the base for their development. This program compares to that of the United States’ USA TOPS program, which they use to draft gymnasts as young as six years old in their National Gymnastics program. If we want to be the best, we have to adopt what works from the best while developing our own strategies based on our unique culture and natural athletics abilities,” she said.

Ten-year-old gymnast, Rihanna Williams, endorsed the series, saying: “We are the future of gymnastics. We train 5-6 hours, five days per week and it’s very hard. We do this because we love gymnastics and at the end of the day, we want to make Jamaica proud.

“We hope you will not leave us but stay with us and help us grow as we will be Olympians in the future. Thank you again Mayberry Investments, we will make you proud to be part of our family.”

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  • Tokyo Olympics: Simone Biles withdraws from vault and uneven bars finals Tokyo Olympics: Simone Biles withdraws from vault and uneven bars finals

    Simone Biles has pulled out of two further events at Tokyo 2020, USA Gymnastics has confirmed.

    The American superstar was involved in just one rotation of Tuesday's women's team final, in which she registered the lowest score, before sitting out the rest of the event.

    It was later confirmed she would also not defend the individual all-around title she won at Rio 2016 in order to focus on her mental health.

    On Saturday, USA Gymnastics confirmed Biles – a four-time gold medallist at Rio – will now not take her place in the finals of the vault and uneven bars, with further decisions to be taken on her participation in the floor and balance beam finals.

    A statement from the governing body read: "After further consultation with medical staff, Simone Biles has decided to withdraw from the event finals for vault and the uneven bars. She will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether to compete in the finals for floor exercise and balance beam.

    "We remain in awe of Simone, who continues to handle this situation with courage and grace, and all of the athletes who have stepped up during these unexpected circumstances."

    Earlier this week, Biles took to Instagram to explain how her body and mind are "simply not in sync" and attempted to describe the different aspects that go into performing at the highest level when dealing with a mental block.

    "For anyone saying I quit, I didn't quit, my mind and body are simply not in sync as you can see here," Biles wrote on her story. "I don't think you realise how dangerous this is on a hard/competition surface. Nor do I have to explain why I put health first. Physical health is mental health.

    "It's honestly petrifying trying to do a skill but not having your mind [and] body in sync.

    "Literally cannot tell up from down. It's the craziest feeling ever, not having an inch of control over your body."

    USA Gymnastics said MyKayla Skinner, who had the fourth highest score in qualification, will compete in the vault finals alongside Jade Carey.

  • Tokyo Olympics: Biles - I didn't quit, my mind and body are simply not in sync Tokyo Olympics: Biles - I didn't quit, my mind and body are simply not in sync

    Simone Biles explained how her mind and body were "simply not in sync" as she discussed her withdrawal from the team and all-around gymnastics finals at the Tokyo Olympics.

    The four-time gold medallist from Rio registered the lowest score of the first rotation in Tuesday's team event before leaving the arena. After returning, it was announced she would not be involved in the remainder of the competition.

    Biles used her Instagram account to provide further details on her mental health on Friday, as she attempted to describe the different aspects that go into performing at the highest level when dealing with a mental block.

    "For anyone saying I quit, I didn't quit, my mind and body are simply not in sync as you can see here," Biles wrote on her story. "I don't think you realise how dangerous this is on a hard/competition surface. Nor do I have to explain why I put health first. Physical health is mental health.

    "It's honestly petrifying trying to do a skill but not having your mind [and] body in sync.

    "Literally cannot tell up from down. It's the craziest feeling ever, not having an inch of control over your body."

    Biles initially accompanied her question-and-answer session with two videos, which she subsequently deleted, that showed her failing to perform her double twisting somersault dismount off uneven bars during training.

    The multiple world champion, who said she had been practicing at an unspecified location in Tokyo, explained her struggles relating specifically around twisting.

    "Sometimes I can't even fathom twisting," she continued. "I seriously cannot comprehend how to twist. Strangest and weirdest thing as well as feeling.

    "What’s even scarier is since I have no idea where I am in the air, I have no idea how I'm going to land or what I’m going to land on – head/hands/feet back."

    The 24-year-old has qualified for the four individual finals in Tokyo, with the vault and uneven bars taking place on Sunday, although her participation remains in doubt.

    Fellow American athlete Jeff Henderson, who won gold in the long jump at Rio five years ago, insisted mental blocks are not a new phenomenon within professional sport, while also expressing his pride in Biles for speaking so openly about her situation.

    "Almost every athlete [has these problems]. They just don’t speak on it," Henderson told Stats Perform.

    "Every athlete goes through a mental breakdown or [has to] figure out their brain, what to do, over-thinking - that’s every athlete.

    "I think it should be awareness for every athlete to have that issue because it’s a huge thing to be protective of. If you’re not protective of your mental [state], you’re not going to do anything physical.

    "There's nothing wrong with that. Any athlete would say take your time, relax, get your mental right come back when you’re going to be ready. Every athlete would say that."

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