Gymnastics, in a sense, is sport.
Look it up.
“Gymnastics is a sport that includes exercises requiring balance, strength, flexibility, agility, coordination and endurance,” according to Wikipedia.
Merriam-Webster agrees, calling gymnastics a “physical exercise designed to develop strength and coordination.”
Victory Gymnastics Center in Marion, on its website, takes it even farther.
“... Gymnastics is perhaps one of the most comprehensive ‘lifestyle exercise programs’ available to children, blending strength, flexibility, speed, balance, coordination, power and discipline ... It gives the athlete flexibility, grace, balance and amazing power. However, this is a sport which also benefits the mind — teaching perseverance, attention to detail, focus, poise and confidence.”
That is sport.
But gymnastics is a sport that doesn’t move the needle much with sports fans in Eastern Iowa, with the exception of the Olympics competition every four years.
The sport, however, is alive and very well in these parts.
Take a look at what’s happening this weekend.
The University of Iowa men’s team is hosting the Big Ten Championships Friday and Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes are ranked seventh in the country and won the Big Ten regular-season title, a new concept developed this season.
Only 24 colleges offer men’s gymnastics, and eight of those are club teams. The Big Ten is the epicenter with seven programs, including third-ranked Michigan, No. 4 Illinois, No. 5 Penn State and No. 6 Minnesota ahead of the Hawkeyes in the national rankings.
So the best of men’s gymnastics will be on display inside CHA.
“This is one of the best gymnastics meets in the world,” Iowa Coach JD Reive said in an Iowa news release.
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Meanwhile, the Hawkeye women’s team is in Corvallis, Ore., for the NCAA Regionals, taking on Arizona tonight in a quest to advance to the second round on Friday. The top two teams qualify for the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, later this month.
In Cedar Rapids, the USA Gymnastics Level 6-7 Regional Championships will be hosted by Twisters Gymnastics at the GameOn Sports Complex. Competition begins at 2:30 p.m. Friday, 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Twisters is just one of several gymnastics clubs in Eastern Iowa that is thriving. The Cedar Rapids Association of Gymnastics, Somersaults and Kids First in Cedar Rapids, as well as the Iowa Gym-Nest in Coralville/Iowa City and Moser School of Dance and Gymnastics in northeast Iowa, all have high-level athletes competing in local, state, regional and national events every year.
So if you want to see a little gymnastics — or a lot of “balance, strength, flexibility, agility, coordination and endurance” — this is your weekend.
“Bring the energy,” Reive said in the release. “Bring the noise. Have an incredible time.”
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