LEVALLOIS, France, July 8, 2014 – Just days after the U.S. team grabbed three medals at the 2014 Acrobatic Gymnastics World Age Group Competitions in Levallois, France, just a few kilometers outside the heart of Paris, their senior counterparts are ready to take on the world. Though the U.S. has only entered three pairs/groups into the World Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships, which begin Thursday, they come with a deep squad.
Kiley Boynton and Ryan Ward, both of Riverside, Calif./Realis Gymnastics Academy, lead Team USA. The duo knocked off reigning World Games gold medalists Alice Upcott and Dominic Smith of Great Britain earlier this year at the International Gymnastics Federation’s World Cup in Maia, Portugal. The win marked them as ones to watch at this year’s Worlds.
Boynton and Ward told USA Gymnastics earlier this year they expected big results in France, and they remain determined to see that goal become a reality this week.
“Our goal remains the same,” said Ward. “We’ve been training for a long time, individually and as a pair, to get to this point in time. This is the time for us to shine.”
Boynton added, “It’s fun, but it’s also nerve-wracking because everyone’s watching you. All the pressure is on.”
Eirian Smith and Brian Kincher, both of Livermore, Calif./West Coast Training Center, are a mix of youth in Smith and experience in Kincher. He competed at the 2010 Worlds, but then stepped away from the sport.
“I really wanted to do some traveling, and I felt like I had been in the gym for so many years,” said Kincher, who was out of the sport for almost a year. “Across all the travelling, I found myself getting into acro gyms, doing some small shows here and there, and I realized that I really still had it in me. I still wanted to be training and competing.”
Back on the World stage, he’s helped Smith ready herself for the spotlight: “He knows how to help me deal with the pressure and figure out what I can do to make the most of this trip,” Smith explained. “Help me make it memorable and enjoy it.”
The final entry for Team USA is the women’s group of Christina Antoniades of Eldersburg, Md., Emily Ruppert of Baltimore, Md., and Hannah Silverman, Clarksville, Md., all of Emilia’s Acro Gymnastics and Cheer and are competing in their first senior World Championships.
This World Championships debut has been a long time coming for the trio. “We’ve been training for the past years just for this moment,” Antoniades said. “We’ve put a lot of hard work and dedication into being able to come here.”
But that doesn’t mean they’ve come to simply take part.
“We definitely want to make finals,” Silverman said, who also indicated she is focused on “not freaking out” or changing her typical routine.
Although Team USA is all business inside the Palais des Sports Marcel-Cerdan, where competition and training are being held, the athletes have gotten to see the sites of Paris. They’ve posed for photos in various acrobatic holds in front of the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triumph and Notre Dame cathedral to the delight of their fellow tourists.
“It’s nice to see the public react to Acro,” Kincher said. “Everyone there started taking pictures of us instead of their family.”
The competition begins Thursday with qualifications. USA Gymnastics is onsite and will provide archived routine coverage on its YouTube channel. The finals run Friday (12 p.m. ET) and Saturday (10:30 a.m. ET) and will have a live webcast on YouTube.
As if competing in the World Championships wasn’t enough, these acro athletes will fly home from Paris and head directly for Louisville, Ky., site of the USA Gymnastics Championships and their national championships.
“We’re used to crazy training sessions,” said Ruppert of the busy schedule, “It’s kind of like everything we’ve trained for has prepared for us these two weeks.”