By Scott Bregman
At last year’s World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Kiev, Ukraine, Americans Jazzy Kerber of Highland Park, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center, and Rebecca Sereda of Staten Island, N.Y./Isadora, made U.S. rhythmic gymnastics history when they became the first U.S. duo to advance to the all-around finals at Worlds.
This week in Izmir, they’re hoping for more of the same.
Kerber and Sereda’s accomplishments are part of what Caroline Hunt, rhythmic program director for USA Gymnastics, says is an eight-year period of making strides in rhythmic gymnastics. The past twelve months have been particularly fruitful: In addition to the accomplishments in Kiev, two-time junior national champion Laura Zeng of Libertyville, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center, won the all-around bronze medal at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. The medal was the first at the World or Olympic-level in rhythmic gymnastics for Team USA.
Kerber and Sereda have grown up together in rhythmic gymnastics, making their joint accomplishment all the more satisfying.
“We were on the first Youth Elite Squad together,” Kerber said of their longtime friendship. “The fact that we’ve been together this whole time, and then, we were in the finals at Worlds was really awesome.”
“We’re very close, and we never have issues with each other,” Sereda said of the pair, who frequently spend weeks together in Russia preparing for major competitions.
Sereda won two-straight U.S. senior all-around titles in 2012 and 2013 before tying Kerber at July’s USA Gymnastics Championships in Louisville, Ky. They are fierce competitors with a shared goal: to elevate their sport in the United States and abroad.
“Internationally, we want the best for USA,” said Kerber. “So, it’s nice to have someone else there who is going for the same thing, even if we are individual competitors.”
“Our main goal is to pick up rhythmic gymnastics and show that the United States is a country to be reckoned with on the world stage,” Sereda added.
And even though their identities in someways are linked, both recognize their individual styles.
“We’re both very different in gymnastics styles,” Sereda said with a laugh. “Jazzy is more of the clean, very graceful gymnast.
“She has a very simple grace to her.”
“Becca has really good leaps and toes,” Kerber said. “She’s really exciting to watch because she has a lot of unique elements you don’t see very often.”
This week in Izmir, they’ll be pulling for each other – as they always have – along with Serena Lu of Staten Island, N.Y./Isadora, and the U.S. senior rhythmic group, which consists of Kiana Eide of Northbrook, Ill., Alisa Kano of Glencoe, Ill., Natalie McGiffert of Northbrook, Ill., Jennifer Rokhman of Northbrook, Ill., Monica Rokhman of Northbrook, Ill., and Kristen Shaldybin of Chicago, Ill., all of North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center.
And if all goes according to plan for Kerber and Sereda, it will be another chance for the duo to carve their place in the history books once again.
USA Gymnastics’ coverage of the World Rhythmic Championships begins tomorrow with archived clips of the U.S. routines. Live coverage begins Tuesday with the finals for hoop and ball on the USA Gymnastics YouTube page. Click here for more coverage information.