As a former gymnast of tumbling and trampoline, it is my pleasure to report on the 2017 World Championships here on GymnasticsVille. I continue to stay involved with the sport by judging at state, regional and national competitions, while also making coaching appearances at clinics and camps. But I also stay updated with these athletes on a more personal level. It truly warmed my heart to watch these young athletes during the live feeds because in the eight years since my retirement (and before then), I have watched many of the above athletes grow up training and competing. In addition to being exceptional athletes, they are exceptional people. In addition to their athletic pursuits, many of them are college students and coaches to younger athletes. They are helping to shape the future of our sport, and I could not be prouder of them.
I have had the pleasure to work with a few of these athletes as members of my junior staff at the USA Gymnastics Trampoline and Tumbling Scholarship Camp, known as the CREW. And it’s because of this friendship that I can share with you some of their insights and experiences.
Jeffrey T. Brown (@jeffreytbrown): Was this your first Worlds?
Hally Piontek (@hallypiontek): “This was my first worlds. I competed in WAGC in 2013 in Sofia, Bulgaria: 7th place – Double Mini, 4th place – Synchronized Trampoline.”
Cody Gesuelli (@codygesuelli): “This was my first World Championships, but I have competed at the junior world championships, which are known as the World Age Group Championships, on 5 different occasions.”
Brandon Krzynefski (@brandonkrzynefski): “This past 2017 World Championships was my second Senior worlds. My first one was back in 2015 in Odense, Denmark. I placed 3rd with the team and 17th individually. This year we placed 4th as a team and I finished 20th individually.”
Drew Collins (@drew_collins): “Yes, this was my first time being a part of a Worlds Team. I’ve never even gone to the WAGC before.”
Isaac Rowley (@isaac_rowley): “This was my first World Championships, but I have been to the World Age Group Championships in 2013 (Bulgaria), 2014 (Daytona Beach) and 2015 (Denmark).
JB: How do you feel about your performance this year?
Hally Piontek: “I am extremely pleased in my individual performance this year. Since this was my first worlds, my goal coming into competition was to hit all my passes. To my surprise after hitting my passes I had made it into semis for trampoline and finals for DMT. I did not expect to make finals or semis at all when I was coming in. Making semis and finals at my first worlds was completely mind-blowing and made me realize that I’m now actually a competitor with all these amazing athletes from around the globe. Team USA did an amazing job showing off what this country is capable of.”
Cody Gesuelli: “As the alternate for the individual trampoline competition, I didn’t compete individually, but was ready to do so in the even one of my teammates could not compete. However, I did have the opportunity to compete synchronized trampoline with Isaac Rowley. Due to a possible foot injury that I have (still unknown, at this time), I was unable to compete at my full potential. I fell on the 6th skill of our second routine and I was pretty bummed about that. However, we had a great first routine and I’m happy to say we cored pretty well on that. In regards to my performance, I’m happy to say that I was able to compete at my first World Championships even with whatever is going on with my foot. I do wish I had made 20 skills in the competition, but I’m proud that I was even able to compete at all.”
Brandon Krzynefski: “I feel like my qualification runs could have been a lot cleaner since I had a few mistakes. I made a big mistake in my team final run which really made me upset because I felt like I let everyone down. The whole team is an amazing support system and they understood that things like this will happen, so they were very encouraging to me.”
Drew Collins: “I am super proud of my team. Both male and female (teams) moved up in the standings after finals and we had 100% passes to our feet. I unfortunately was the alternate and only trained with the team. Once they stepped out on the floor, all I could do was be there to support them.”
Isaac Rowley: “Overall, I am pretty pleased with my performance for it being my first World Championships. I think I could’ve done better but that just means I nee to get back in the gym and work even harder.”
JB: How do you think you can improve?
Hally Piontek: “I can improve by increasing my degree of difficulty in both trampoline and double mini. I also need to improve on my form on each of my skills. Simple things like fingers together or arms by my side can really increase my score as I look to hopefully make finals next worlds. These little improvements will help me become more competitive internationally.”
Cody Gesuelli: “I first need to heal my foot because it was bothering me for the majority of the year and it only got worse right before World Championships. I feel that my foot pain hampered me from performing to my potential this season and I’m going to take some time off from training to recover and heal it. Other than that, I need to work on jumping higher because I have one of the lower Time of Flights out of all the USA men and the time we spend in the air during our routines is a part of our score. So, if I can raise that time, I’ll be able to score higher.”
Brandon Krzynefski: “I think it’s all mental with me. I think I just need to put in more numbers in the gym and find my confidence again. I’m eager to get back in the gym and work hard for the 2018 season. I really want to focus on getting more physically fit to do harder passes so I can keep up with the field.”
Drew Collins: “I obviously would like the opportunity to compete. I will work hard in my future seasons leading up to selection competitions to make sure I’m down there competing for my team. This year I’m looking to get healthy and increase my difficulty.”
Isaac Rowley: “For improvements for myself, I just think that I need to keep up my training in the gym and just keep hitting the amount of routines and everything I’ve been doing in the gym to keep myself confident and excited for the upcoming seasons.”
JB: What, if anything, would you like the GymnasticsVille audience to know about the world of T&T?
Hally Piontek: “I would like the GymnasticsVille audience to know that we are a crazy and entertaining sport to watch. We are line no other sport and are completely different than artistic gymnastics. We can soar up to 20ft in the air and we compete triple and even quadruple flips! Our sport deserves more attention and publicity because our sport showcases the amazing talents of our athletes. Each and every athlete has worked extremely hard and has overcome multiple physical, emotional and financial factors to get to this high point of our sport. We just want the public to see this and support us as we work towards improving even more.”
Cody Gesuelli:: “Our sport is pretty awesome and even though only Trampoline is in The Olympic Game program, tumbling and double mini deserve attention as well because they are very exciting to watch. In our sport, anything can happen in competition, which makes it that more amazing to watch!”
Brandon Krzynefski: “T&T is such a unique sport with an amazing community of people. It’s a shame we don’t get as much recognition as artistic gymnastics does, but when you take a step back, we don’t do our sport for the fame. Traveling around the world with my best friends and accomplishing goals I’ve sacrificed a lot for is what makes the T&T so special to me.”
Drew Collins: “I guess if I had to pick one thing, it would be that tumbling and trampoline is so much more than just a sport! The relationships that I have built through tumbling are life-long friendships, that have only grown stronger through my World Championships experience. I love my T&T family and can’t wait to experience this again at the next World Championships.”
Isaac Rowley: “Overall, I had an amazing experience going and competing in my first Worlds. It really helps that everybody on all the teams, trampoline, tumbling and double mini, just all feel so close and like a family. It really helps everyone to stay positive, stay confident and just have a fantastic time wherever we go.”