© Tom Theobald

Competition update for Sept. 10
The U.S. gymnasts are competing in Division B. Their scores today on ball were: Laura Zeng, 18.500; Camilla Feeley, 17.100; and Evita Griskenas, 16.200. Both the ball and hoop events conclude on Tuesday, Sept. 11, when the finals for both will be held after qualifications these two events conclude. The remaining schedule is: Sept. 12 and 13, qualifications for clubs and hoop, with the finals on the 13th; Sept. 14, all-around finals; Sept. 15, group all-around finals; and Sept. 16, group event finals.

By Blythe Lawrence

She was only 15 and in the throes of her first year on the senior international stage, but Camilla Feeley’s acting instincts kicked in as soon as she stepped onto the carpet at the 2015 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships.

The clubs routine to Club Des Belugas’ “Straight To Memphis” was zany and fun, and Feeley carried it off with the zest of a character actress, giving no hint of the uncertainty she was feeling within.

“I don’t think I understood the weight of the opportunity I had been given, and once I got to Worlds I was intimidated by all the gymnasts that I had only seen on the internet,” Feeley says of her experience in Stuttgart, Germany. “Stuttgart was my first competition at the World level, and it has definitely helped me with nerves to this day. I see it as, if I could do it there, I know I can do it now.”

“Now” begins today at the World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. In company with her training partners Laura Zeng and Evita Griskenas from North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center in Illinois, Feeley makes up one third of a U.S. squad attempting to write a new chapter in American rhythmic history. No U.S. team has finished higher than ninth at Worlds in the past decade, and the trio is eager to test themselves against the best in the world.

Feeley’s 2018 hasn’t been without its tenuous moments. She began the season still recovering from a back injury, and old nerves had to be overcome as she made her way back into competition. A sweep of all six gold medals up for grabs at the Pan American Championships in Medellin, Colombia, this summer helped prove she was as much of a contender as ever.

“Once I got myself back out there, I think I got into my style more than I ever have. What I mean is that when I do my routines on the carpet, I just listen to the music and try to show the audience my story,” Feeley says. “I am very happy with this season so far, and I think it has been a year of growth, especially mentally. This World Championships I hope to show the international stage that USA has a full team of gymnasts that are ready to fight for their place.”

In Sofia, Feeley will be contributing routines with the hoop and ball, portraying very different characters with each performance. Her hoop routine is a soft, fluid piece that brings out all the elegance of gymnastics’ sparkliest discipline. With the ball, she’ll pivot and show a much steelier edge, accompanied by George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone.”

It begs the question — who is the real Camilla, the sweet sylph she portrays with the hoop, or the sassy “Bad to the Bone” character with the ball?

“She’s both!” says Zeng. “Personality-wise, I think she can do all kinds of things. If you ask me, she’s like a chameleon, and can adapt to any situation.”

Including the pressure-cooker of the world championships.

“My biggest challenge right now would have to be that I get caught up in the intensity of rhythmic gymnastics,” she says. “I often have to sit back and remind myself why I started the sport: to enjoy it. Now, after three more years of fighting in this sport, I know that I have worked hard to get here, and that this is a huge achievement for me.”

Indeed, three years have made worlds of difference for Camilla Feeley.