When asked how it felt to win a medal at the Opal Cup in Calais, France, senior rhythmic national team member Ava Gehringer, said, "It was a really nice surprise."" She added, "It was kind of surreal to be honest. I wasn't expecting it at all. I was just going to the meet to get more experience because I'm new to the international scene."
Gehringer, 17, won the bronze medal in the clubs event finals, competing against top athletes from the powerhouse countries in rhythmic gymnastics including Russia, Belarus, and Israel.
This Evanston, Ill. native said, "It was also a really nice surprise to place fifth in the all-around, too, but medaling was even better!"
Gehringer trains at North Shore Rhythmics in Glenview, Ill., where she trains with her coaches Natasha Klimouk and Dani Takova.
Gehringer has only competed twice for the USA internationally – once in Belgium and once in France. But, she's planning to get a lot more experience soon and says she's moving up slowly. "In May I'm going to Spain, Portugal, and Poland all in one trip and I'll be gone three weeks," said Gehringer. "Then I come home for a few days and leave again for Belarus for another week trip. I'll be attending two Grand Prix events, I'll train and watch the competition in Portugal, and I'll compete in another competition in Poland."
The best part of competition for Gehringer? "I love traveling and experiencing different cultures and meeting new people."
Always the adventurer, Gehringer told the story of how she began rhythmic gymnastics at age 5. "I was taking swimming lessons at the YMCA by my house and I had to walk by the gym where the girls were doing rhythmic gymnastics. I wanted to try it because it looked like so much fun, plus, I wasn't a very good swimmer. I did get to try it and I've been doing it ever since!"
USA Gymnastics Rhythmic Program Director Caroline Hunt said, "Gehringer's achievement comes in a recent stream of successful performances by our top senior rhythmic athletes in international competitions. We're all very proud that Gehringer could represent the USA on the podium and look forward to more success in the future."
Gehringer attended the competition along with teammates Savannah Reynolds from California Rhythms in Los Angeles and Marina Moskalenko from Aviator Sports in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The top three in the all-around competition included: Russia's Natalia Pichuzhkina in first with a 68.317, France's Delphine Ledoux in second with a 62.867 and Belarus' Nastya Ivankova in third with a 62.659. Israel's Daniel Falah was fourth with 60.752 followed by Gehringer in fifth with a score of 59.134. Moskalenko finished 13th all-around in the seniors while Reynolds finished ninth all-around in the junior division.