US-based TT gymnasts Maria Ferguson and Annalise Newman-Achee make their combined debut on the international stage at the Senior Pan American Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Saturday.
The gymnasts were able to maintain training and competitive schedules in the lead-up to this event and are both coming off the back of successful competitive seasons.
Ferguson and Newman-Achee are set to deliver solid routines on all four apparatus when they compete in Subdivision 2.
According to a statement issued by the TT Gymnastics Federation (TTGF), on Wednesday, Ferguson started gymnastics at the age of five in Dubai. In 2017, she moved to Las Vegas and started training at Salcianu Elite Academy of Gymnastics in Henderson, Nevada, where she gained a lot of competition experience.
“In 2019, Maria travelled to Trinidad to compete at the TTGF National Championships as a USA Gymnastics Level 10 athlete – one of the highlights of her career,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Newman-Achee is originally from Brooklyn, New York. She is a Level 10/ senior elite gymnast, who trains at Arena Gymnastics in Hamilton, New Jersey. Newman-Achee also started gymnastics when she was five years old and her favourite event is the uneven bars.
“Annalise hopes to live up to her nickname ‘Tiger’ as she is a very fierce athlete and competitor. Annalise’s floor exercise music is an original piece, composed for her by her father Lyndon and uncle David Achee,” it added.
The fraternity’s statement also said that the national contingent would have included at least one additional locally-based gymnast.
But owing to the constant fluctuation of covid19 restrictions here, the athlete was unable to get in the right amount of training and competition to affirm selection.
The statement continued, “At a local level, gymnastics has been severely affected by the pandemic and the resulting restrictions have negatively impacted our local athletes’ ability to access training venues since March 2020.
“One of these athletes, Rhenece Andrew, who trains locally at Tots & Tumblers Gymnastic Club, would likely have been age and skill-eligible to participate in this event, but unfortunately, she would have to miss out due to disruptions in training and a lack of competitive opportunities due the on-going impact of the pandemic.”
The TTGF, however, applauded Ferguson and Newman-Achee’s courage amid these challenging times and believes their efforts will not go unnoticed as they represent TT.