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Gymnasts Tumble To National Championships

Hannah Vorst Shaffer
Wheel gymnasts perform at the opening ceremony of USA Gymnastics For All National Championships and Gymfest at Newport on the Levee.

Gymnasts tumbled across the Purple People Bridge on Wednesday to celebrate the beginning of National Championships. More than 600 competitors are in Cincinnati competing for 17 titles and a trip to the 2018 World Championships.

The USA Gymnastics For All National Championships and Gymfest is a four-day event hosted this year by the USA Wheel Gymnastics Federation. Teams from all over the country perform for the public on a daily basis, train in workshops, and to compete for national titles.

Gymnastics For All is a form of team gymnastics that can include anyone at any age. There are five events: National Gymfest, Power TeamGym, Team Acrobatics and Tumbling, USA Gym For Life Challenge, and Rhythmic Xpress.

USA Wheel Gymnastics Federation Manager of Operations Wolfgang Bientzel says the competition is for anyone ages five to 95 and the majority of  people compete for the love of performing.

While some forms of gymnastics require training to begin at a young age, Bientzel says people can begin wheel gymnastics at any stage of life. He says wheel gymnastics is a good platform for people who love gymnastics but don't have the time or desire to train six times a week. It allows the gymnasts time to have other passions.

The competition weekend ends with a showcase gala on Saturday afternoon where the top competitors from throughout the week perform for a larger audience.

Bientzel says one thing that makes this competition so special is the number of qualifying gymnasts who get to compete. He says at Olympic national championships there might be many people who qualify but only 30 get to compete. At this competition, all 600 gymnasts get to compete for the 17 available titles.