from Gym Masters Classic V (June 6, 2004)
Shine at Gym Masters Classic V
73 year-old Sandy Werner and 71 year-old
Bob Hammond were battling it out to see who could climb a 20 foot rope
the fastest. Not on a dare,
but, rather, because both have been climbing 20 and 25 foot ropes for
more than 50 years. Although
much slower than they were 50 years ago, when they were both climbing in
near record time, somewhere just under three seconds, these men today
still climb a rope faster than most people half their age, including
experienced athletes, and that’s without using their feet!
On this day, Sandy beat out his long-time friend and fellow
competitor as he clambered up the rope to tap the metal pan at the top
in just over six seconds. Bob’s
best time out of three tries was just under seven seconds.
Watching these “youngsters” do their
thing was just one of the many thrilling experiences of the fifth annual
Gym Masters Classic (GMC-V), held in Aliso Viejo, California, on Sunday,
June 6, 2004. The Gym
Masters Classic is an open gymnastics competition for adults 18 years
old and older. On this day,
Sandy and Bob would find themselves battling for second and third place
as 53 year-old William Goodwin managed to reach the top in less than
five seconds to capture the top score in that event.
“It’s all technique” said Phuong Phung, a 34 year-old
newcomer who had difficulty matching the times of Sandy and Bob.
One of the more interesting aspects of
the GMC is seeing older gymnasts beat out much stronger, younger
gymnasts. Is it technique? Ask Masako Kardos, who, at 46 years of age, beat out several
much younger women on the uneven parallel bars.
Masako gave no hint of being the “older” athlete as she
twirled around the bar doing giant swings and eventually performing a
double back flip dismount. Her
score of 8.7 was only one tenth of a point less than the highest score
in that event. What made this performance so dramatic is that Masako has
only recently mastered these skills and appears to be improving more and
more as the years go by. Then
there was 49 year-old Ross Shaw who performed a handspring vault so well
that he received a well-deserved 9.2 for the highest score in that
event, while Tom Phillipbar, 46, captured the top score on the Pommel
Horse. Old age? Don’t
tell that to these performers.
Although the older and more experienced
“masters” gave impressive performances, the riskiest performances
came from the much younger set. This
year, 19 year-old Jennifer Bingham impressed the crowd with solid
performances on the Floor Exercise, the Uneven Bars, and the Balance
Beam. She also captured the
best overall score for the women, 35.2, in the All-Around category.
For the men, 29 year-old Trevor Vondersaar turned in the best
performance in the All-Around category.
Vondersaar also performed a difficult but very well executed
Floor Exercise routine.
As in past years, the GMC saw
performances from young and old alike. Ranging in age from 18 to 70+,
twenty performers made the trip to Aliso Viejo to demonstrate what they
can do in the sport they love most: gymnastics.
26 year-old Kellie French came all the way from Oregon just to
participate in this event. Some,
such as Ross Shaw, Tom Phillipbar, and Masako Kardos, have participated
in every GMC since 2000. This
year, 46 year-old Robert Levin had to withdraw with a pulled
calf-muscle, which he attributed to improperly warming up prior to
trying out his tumbling skills.
Continuing a tradition that was started
at the first GMC in 2000, the audience of approximately fifty spectators
was permitted to participate in a handstand contest and a handstand
race. The GMC-V was also
made successful by the talents of Daniel Goglanian who, as Master of
Ceremonies for the fifth time in as many years, did an outstanding job
of keeping the audience informed and entertained.