Gymnasts’ competition season cancelled?

Second shutdown despite outdoor training

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With COVID-19 spreading across the world, businesses everywhere have been shut down. Athletes have been deeply affected by this because without gyms they have nowhere to train. For gymnasts, this means big setbacks for the season.

Within California, indoor gyms have been closed and reopened multiple times since the pandemic struck. The first shut down of all indoor gyms in Sacramento County was on March 17, 2020. Another shutdown is likely by mid-December based on the new state guidelines tied to hospital Intensive Care Unit capacity.

Teams have been reacting to the shutdowns in different ways. Some have quit training, while others are finding alternative ways to practice.

Gyms within the Sacramento area have been training athletes from home. When California Governor Gavin Newsom first instructed the shut down, athletes worked within their own residences. Gymnasts did stretching and conditioning over team zoom calls.

Since the re-opening of gyms on August 11, 2020, athletes were able to get back to training. This still required some precautions, of course. For example, gymnasts were expected to have their temperatures checked at the beginning of practice, stay six feet away from one another and wear a mask while in the gym.

Local gymnast, Lauren, talks about the precautions her gym took (before the shut down) saying, “Before stepping foot in the gym, we made sure to take our temperature at the door.”  She then referred to how her coaches were handling the situation, “Our coaches did a good job of making sure athletes were spread out six feet apart.” Lauren also mentioned that, “Everyone in the facility wore masks at all times.”

However, now that we’ve entered the purple tier all gyms must be outdoors. Julia, a gymnast in Sacramento, says, “Now that Sacramento is back in the purple zone, our gym might be looking into going back on zoom for online practices.”  She also mentioned that her gym may, “have an option of doing outdoor, spread out activities.”

Julia then went on to state her opinion on the matter, saying, “I am really bummed about our gym possibly shutting down again.  However, I do think it’s best to take all precautions for our safety.  If doing zoom practice is what we need to do, then we will be responsible and do it.”

Now that we’ve entered the purple tier, nothing is guaranteed regarding upcoming meets. Competition season for gymnasts is meant to start in January, which means that athletes are expected to be able to perform all of their skills and routines and that travel plans must be in order for meets.

Because of the pandemic,there’s a chance that competitions won’t happen at all.  Many athletes and coaches are unsure if they should be preparing for the season Coaches must put a lot of effort into choreographing routines for all of their athletes, and they are hesitant to do so because these routines might not be used this year.

Additionally, training and competition fees for each year is expensive–Families have to pay for lessons, choreography, leotards and travel fees. Parents don’t want to  waste money on all of these expenses if the season may be cancelled.

Right now, the best anyone can do is to continue to follow protocol and enjoy whatever time they are allowed in the gym. No one was sure when the next shut-down was, so athletes had to make the best of the time they had in the gym.

Now that gyms are closing, gymnasts are working hard at home. With solo conditioning and stretching exercises, athletes are finding safe ways to train.

COVID-19 may have put a permanent hold on this year’s gymnastics season, but that doesn’t mean that athletes will stop working hard. If by chance competitions do continue this year, the best way gymnasts can prepare is by following safety rules. They must also train as hard as they can to make up for setbacks during time off.