Local gymnastics team competes in off-island competition

  • Karla Villanueva-Bernal / Special to The Garden Island

    The Garden Island Gymnastics members pause after an intense practice session. In back from left are Berkley Feutz, Jasmine Winston, Kassy Ell, Avah McRoberts, Sonya Ell, Nayah Cornell and Elsie Frazier, In the second row from left are Audrey Kaona-Sarsona, Lexi Telles, Lilinoe Estrella and Ariana Welborn, In front from left are Kailar Aguiar, Hiílei Berg and Audrey Jones. Not shown are Ashlyn Worley, Graciella Rhinelander and Shariah Uyeda.

Garden Island Gymnastics qualified 17 participants for a U.S. Gymnastics-sanctioned competition today and Sunday at Kokokahi Gym on Oahu.

The tournament is a qualifier for the tournament on Oahu in November hosted by Rainbow Gymnastics, which will feature gymnasts from all over the world.

Karla Villanueva-Bernal, owner of Garden Island Gymnastics, said 17 participants is the most they’ve ever had from Kauai.

“Some of these kids I’ve had in my program since they were two years old when we first started this program,” Villanueva-Bernal said. “We’ve had some amazing girls come here, and for a few years now to our bigger location, and we’ve been in our warehouse location for five years, our kids have spent a good amount of time here.”

The Garden Island participants entering the competition vary in age from 7 to 11. The ability levels vary from three to five.

Level three has to compete in all four events, including floor, vault, uneven bars, and beam.

Villanueva-Bernal has noticed gymnastic is growing on the island and attributed that to the popularity of gymnast Olympic champion Simone Biles.

“We are dedicated to providing opportunities for competitive gymnasts,” Villanueva-Bernal said. “It’s been growing, and maybe with the gymnastics being back in place in the Olympics, it is getting even bigger.”

He praised his gymnasts.

“It’s impressive to see these little girls respond to pressure, and rocking, and shining, and they are doing fantastic, and it’s a super proud moment as a coach to seeing these kids working so hard up there on balance beams, and doing what they know,” he said.

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