The motto of the 2018 USA Games was Rise With Us and the 37 athletes who competed in Women’s Artistic Gymnastics did just that! The competition was held in the gymnastics facility at Seattle Pacific University. Competition Director, Sarah Jean Marshall, and her SPU staff hosted a professional competition that raised the standards of Special Olympics gymnastics. Veteran Technical Delegate, Cindy Bickman, and Head Judge, Chris Jackson were impressed with the expertise and creativity of the staff and took notes for future Games. Awards and special events were held in the gymnastics venue. The athletes were thrilled with a visit by US Olympic champion speed skater, Apollo Ohno. He was a great sport when the girls taught him their flash mob, The Party Dance, and insisted that he perform with them.
A hallmark of the Games was a collaboration with the Special Olympics cheerleaders, comprised of cheer groups from around the US. They came to the gymnastics competition, made an arch for the gymnasts to march in through, and did sideline cheers in between events. To spread the excitement, over 100 gymnasts, cheerleaders, and coaches, dressed in red USA flag shirts, did a flash mob between games at the basketball venue.
During their off time from judging, the national officials worked on the 2019-2027 Artistic Gymnastics program that would be introduced at the World Games the following year. They created the Judging Guidelines, and with assistance from SPU gymnasts, did the written text of the new routines.
On Tuesday, July 3 was All Around Competition using a Capital Cup format of Warm up/compete. On Wed, July 4 were event finals for vault and balance beam and on Thursday July 5 were event finals in Uneven Bars and Floor Exercise. Besides competition, there were Flash Mob appearances.
Although the gymnastics competition in Seattle was small in number, it was huge in spirit! After the Games, the athletes returned home with many medals and many memories.