INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Gymnasts from across the country are performing in Indianapolis this weekend for the USA Gymnastics 2019 Rhythmic Open Championship.
The public are welcome to attend a four-day event inside The Gymnastics Company at 5646 Mutual Lane on the city’s southeast side.
Rhythmic gymnastics focuses on style and grace in a series of floor routines that many say combine gymnastics with ballet and dance. Gymnasts use an apparatus such as a hoop, ribbon, ball, rope or pair of clubs to demonstrate their balance and flexibility.
“Rhythmic gymnastics is a sport that entails agility balance, strength, beauty, dance, flexibility and handling. So eye-hand coordination,” explained Suzi DiTullio, regional chairman for USA Gymnastics.
DiTullio is a judge for the championship and says this is the grand finale for the rhythmic gymnastics season. She is a former gymnast and coach herself and says she’s tried to stay involved in rhythmic gymnastics for years.
“I think it’s very expressive. They have the opportunity to pick their own music and incorporate their own choreography, so it brings out their personality and their love of the sport,” said DiTullio.
The gymnasts are all girls and compete in skill levels parallel to their age groups. The all-around champion in the first session Level 5 championship is Isa De Saint-Aignan who traveled to Indianapolis from Boston.
De Saint-Aignan says originally, she started in artistic gymnastics, with equipment like the balance beam, uneven bars and the vault.
“One of my friends was doing it and she got me into it but I didn’t like the tumbling and I liked the flexibility, so I decided I would come back and try it again,” said De Saint-Aignan.
As a rhythmic gymnast, she focuses on all the athletic components of gymnastics, all while holding up a comfortable smile.
“I think it’s difficult. For some people, it’s probably easier, but I tend to look a little more focused during routines, so I have to try to look more expressive and like I’m actually dancing,” she said.
Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for teens and children. The competitions begin at 8:30 am Thursday through Sunday.