CHICAGO, July 18 (Reuters) – Since she began coaching as a rhythmic gymnast on the age of seven, America’s Laura Zeng has come to grasp that most individuals in her nation have no idea a lot about her sport.
The 21-year-old competed on the 2016 Rio Olympics, is a six-time nationwide champion and is her nation’s finest shot at a medal in rhythmic gymnastics on the Tokyo Olympics.
However there’s little fanfare, or funding, for rhythmic gymnastics in the US.
So Zeng and her crew mates have turned to social media to rally followers, inform the general public and sustain with what the competitors is as much as forward of the Video games.
“Social media has helped rhythmic gymnastics broaden not simply in the US however globally as nicely,” Zeng stated.
“Why would you set your child in one thing that will not pay dividends? When you do inventive gymnastics you realize there’s many alternative routes that you can go.”
USA Gymnastics has ramped up its advertising and marketing and assist of rhythmic gymnastics, even working a video collection on Instagram to assist clarify the game to a broader viewers.
“The variety of rhythmic members has fluctuated over the past a number of years, however from the 2014-15 season to the 2019-20 season, there was a complete enhance of greater than 34% in rhythmic members,” a spokeswoman for the organisation stated.
Nonetheless, inventive gymnast Nastia Liukin stated rhythmic gymnastics had a notion downside.
“It is simply not as widespread as inventive,” stated the 2008 Beijing Olympics all-around champion. “While you say the phrase ‘gymnastics’, you consider flips,”
USA Gymnastics’ predominant Instagram web page has greater than 800,000 followers, over 100 instances greater than the official rhythmic gymnastics deal with.
‘RUNNING AROUND WITH A RIBBON’
Confronted with such apathy, Zeng’s crew mate Evita Griskenas has taken to Instagram, Fb and TikTok to lift her profile, and posts blogs to coach individuals.
“The angle from individuals in the US has all the time been: ‘rhythmic gymnastics? Is that the factor with the ribbons?'” she stated.
“Letting individuals know that it isn’t simply working round with a ribbon like a headless rooster can be form of good.”
An Olympic medal occasion since 1984, rhythmic gymnastics is carried out in particular person and group competitions utilizing hoops, balls, golf equipment and ribbons.
Gymnasts are judged on a number of components, together with how they use the equipment – throws, tosses, spins and catches, as an example. They’re additionally marked on “physique difficulties” comparable to balances, turns, and jumps, in addition to execution and artistry.
Jap European international locations have invested extra closely in rhythmic gymnastics than the US and the game has been widespread in former Soviet states for many years.
Due to sturdy assist and infrastructure, Jap European rhythmic gymnasts have been extra capable of prepare and compete domestically through the COVID-19 pandemic, a particular benefit over their U.S. counterparts.
“It is an enormous factor, the inequality of the game, should you examine its reputation right here in the US versus in Jap European international locations,” Zeng stated.
Zeng has cultivated an Instagram following of almost 16,000 however that determine pales compared to the roughly 340,000 followers of Russian twins Dina and Arina Averina, who’re anticipated to vie for gold and silver in Tokyo.
Israel’s Linoy Ashram, one other medal likelihood, has greater than 60,000 followers. read more
Nonetheless, that is the primary time the US has been capable of ship a full delegation of rhythmic gymnasts to the Olympics for the reason that Video games included the group competitors in 1996.
“With an opportunity to make the finals, we’re actually a sport to look at,” Zeng stated.
Reporting by Richa Naidu; Modifying by Peter Rutherford
Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.