Masters Games

I wanted to win. There. I said it. I mean I really wanted to win. I did not win and I was pissed. Alas, that is how life goes.
Last Saturday I arrived early at the arena for the meet. Typical. Though the space looks big from the outside it’s actually faily small (a full runway for vault, which is 80 ft, plus the landing mat, barely fit).
As I was leaving the bathroom I met up with Andrea, a fellow American I had been introduced to over email. She is a gymnast, competed in the same league as me in the US, and is a college professor now living in Palmerston North in New Zealand with her husband. They were both so nice and even gave me a ride back from the competition. As in did not give me a choice about the matter. Love them.

Warm ups were really chill. There wasn’t any official timing or turns or anything. Basically we just warmed up whatever we wanted whenever we wanted. We also got a one touch before we had to compete (one touch means a quick warm up turn usually 4 people or so before you compete. Quick as in 30 seconds or less).

After warm-ups was a march in, which is always strange when everyone is old, though it makes it feel more serious. The introduced us by region, so my region was simply “Mountain Lakes”. No USA, no New Jersey, nothing. I’m going to bet people were confused as Mountain Lakes is not a NZ region.
My group started on conditioning, which is more of a simple strength and conditioning routine that everyone has to perform. I learned the routine the week before the meet and was more worried about remembering it than anything else. That routine was all right. Nothing fantastic but nothing terrible either. They don’t flash scores so I had no idea how I did or how anyone else did.

After that we moved to floor. I now realize that in late 2003 I started competing this floor routine, which means I’m due for a new one. Anyway, I competed a fairly simple routine. The rules for this competition are very different from the rules I compete with in the USA so I made some changes. My first pass was supposed to a front handspring front full but the floor was not bouncy and my timing was not working so I went with a simple front handspring front layout. My leap series became switch leap to switch side half (new-ish skill for me. Never competed that before). My second pass was roundoff back handspring layout full. That was followed up with a full turn, a straight jump full to Popa, roundoff straddle jump to fulfill the gym acro requirement (remember that?) and roundoff backhandspring layout for my last pass. I thought the routine was pretty good. I was not in full floor routine shape, but I made it through all right. And I was for sure in better shape than any other competitor there. That always feels good.

Next was beam. I was most concerned about beam, though that’s nothing new. Strangely, I haven’t fallen on a beam routine in competition in over 2 years so perhaps my fear is enough to adequately prepare me. Anyway, I thought this routine was decent. I had a wobble on my wolf full and I stopped my tuck jump full at the 3/4. But I hit everything else, including my standing back tuck.

Last was vault. I did not know this until we rotated to vault, but apparently you can throw a tsuk timer, on to stacked mats and everything, for a score. It’s a legit vault. Crazy if you ask me. I ended up doing a front handspring and a tsuk timer. I wanted to flip a tsuk in competition but in my training beforehand, I did not feel comfortable throwing a tsuk in any of the gyms I practiced in. So no tsuk at the meet.

After the meet everyone helped clear out the all of the equipment before they handed out awards, or as they called it, the prize giving ceremony. There was a mini podium, and medals too. They even had a Master’s Games organizer hand out the medals. Talk about legit!

I came in 2nd overall. I smiled a lot, but I was pissed. I won vault, beam and floor so that was a bit of a consolation, but not much. The girl who won, crushed me on the conditioning routine. She beat me by 1.6 in that one routine. And it was legit. Her routine was beautiful. Gorgeous. She deserved that score. I then beat her by 0.5 on every other event, which left me behind by 0.1, 60.3 to her 60.4.
I did get 2 medals though, a gold and a silver. Plus a gym bag (every competitor received one) so that was stellar as well. And I got to wear a sweet bow.
Overall I’m really glad I competed. I love gymnastics so any opportunity to compete, especially in another country, and as an adult, is fantastic.

Oh and the results were even in the daily paper.


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