GymnasticsSafari Invitationa l gymnastics meet.
Young gymnasts from all over Georgia met Saturday and Sunday to compete in the Southern Safari Invitational.
Double Dose Gymnastics hosted the meet in Statesboro for the first time. Over 200 gymnasts from eight gyms met to compete in events such as the Balance Beam, the Floor, the Vault and the Uneven Bars.
Dedra Kearson, Southern Safari meet director and co-owner of Double Dose Gymnastics, was very pleased to be hosting the meet.
"This is the first time Statesboro has ever held a state-wide gymnastic competition," Kearson said. "Statesboro isn't really familiar with gymnastics, most of the time it's been viewed as dance, but it's not. It's a sport."
The athletes were between four and fifteen years of age, and divided into levels 2-10 depending on level of skill. Four teams competed at one time. Each team competed in a separate event, and when all members of each team were finished they would rotate to the next event. In all, there are four rotations per competition.
Judges of the competition were looking for many qualities in the athletes. Depending on the expertise of the judge, dance skills, poise, skill, balance, and body conditioning were factors that would be judged, according to Kearson.
As dangerous as gymnastics may seem, Kearson said, they do not see many injuries in her gym. The most injuries they see are actually at home.
"Injuries are not very common here," she said. "If they are physically fit and in shape they will have a lower risk of being injured."
Kearson hopes her young athletes will continue to perform as gymnasts when they get older.
"One of our main goals is to see these girls go to college as gymnasts," she said. "Unfortunately, when they get to high school, many will become cheerleaders. It just really depends on the gym and the devotion of the gymnast if she will continue on to college gymnastics."
Summit Gymnastics, one of the eight teams competing at Southern Safari, had many girls who wanted to compete at college level gymnastics when they reached that age. One aspiring gymnast even commented that she would one day like to compete in the Olympics. As a group, they agreed that certain events were better or worse than others.
"The bars are the most fun because they are challenging," they said. "The beam is the hardest because it's so small and you have to have good balance to stay on it."
Another team at the meet, No Limitz, also had a few gymnasts who would like to continue to college. However, one athlete said she does not want to compete when she gets older because it is hard. No Limitz also agreed that they like the bars best of all because "it feels like you're flying."
For more information about the Southern Safari Invitational or Double dose Gymnastics, you can reach the gym at 912-489-FLIP.