THE best of Arabian gymnasts have been performing on American soil this week at the Ark-la-Tx Friendship invitation competition in Texas.
The team of six had to quickly adjust to the searing heat, but it didn’t affect 11-year-old Tionna Cumberbatch when she performed a flawless floor routine to get Arabian off to the best of starts, winning the event, with team-mates Poppy Gibbs and Lucy Johnston close behind.
Poppy was then pipped to the post in the vault, this time with Lucy taking the spoils, with Ellie Hewitt taking the bronze medal.
Arabian’s luck continued on the bars as Tionne took her second gold with a stunning routine, while Ellie took silver and Poppy bronze. But all eyes were on Sophie Fretwell, who became the first Arabian gymnast to try an extremely tough new move, transitioning between the high and low bars, which delighted the audience of more than 200.
But the heat was beginning to get to some of the girls with many struggling to keep up their high standards as the day wore on and temperature reached 40°C.
While Ellie and Sophie fell victim to complete exhaustion, Tionne and Poppy continued to impress the judges, this time on the beam as they tied for gold, joined by Emily and Lucy on the podium.
Overall, Tionne was declared the winner, with Poppy taking the silver medal and Lucy the bronze. Coach Alan Armitage was full of praise for his team, saying: “When they started at such a blistering pace and with such clear cut determination, I was over the moon.
“The lesson I’ve learned most for any future events like this in such heat and humidity is to ensure the girls are stocked up on energy vitamins as we go along.
“We’re incredibly grateful for the opportunity to meet and compete in an event that had gymnasts from Texarkana and Dallas.”
On the back of their success across the pond, the girls have been invited to another event next year, this time in San Diego, California where the heat should be less demanding.
Armitage added: “The girls came away with many medals and they all performed excellently.
“They were given heaps of praise from the audience who loved the fact that they had gymnasts from England in their town. They performed as well as I could ever have wished. I’m immensely proud of them all.”