Former gymnast and Y intern Fatin al Zadjali meets the team behind Muscat Gymnastics that is on a mission to establish the exciting and thrilling sport in the Sultanate.
Forty years ago, Nadia Comaneci swept the Olympic Games in Montreal, winning three gold medals.
The petite Romanian teenager also became the first competitor to be awarded a perfect ten, setting the standard for others to follow.
However, while Comaneci is a sporting legend, your children can still enjoy the sport even if they don’t have her ability.
While the discipline is new to Oman, it’s already growing thanks to Muscat Gymnastics, in Al Mazoon Street, Seeb. Here, managed by expert coaches, the sport is one of the best activities around to get children moving and in tune with their bodies.
Affiliated with the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympic programme, Muscat Gymnastics has certified gymnastics equipment for pre-school, recreational and competitive gymnastics.
As a former gymnast, I’m now working on my coaching badges so I was thrilled to hear about its launch. Gymnastics is an active sport that develops children’s strength, coordination, agility and flexibility. It gives a child a sense of sportsmanship and the value of team work.
Muscat Gymnastics offers a family-based arena, with coaches who offer comprehensive but accessible tips that can only improve the wannabe gymnast’s abilities.
Moreover, gymnastics is not well-known in Oman, so the opportunities at Muscat Gymnastics demonstrate that the country is gaining a toehold in different sports at competitive levels.
The sport originated in Ancient Greece as a means of exercising soldiers in preparation for war. The current format being performed in Rio with such superlative artistry and technique comprises six events for men (Floor exercise, Pommel Horse, Still Rings, Vault, Parallel Bars and Horizontal Bar) and four for women (Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise).
My visit to Muscat Gymnastics has brought back so many childhood memories. Here, a combination of energetic students, supportive parents, and inspirational instructors engenders a recreational atmosphere that is both industrious and convivial.
Every gymnast (male and female) is nurtured and motivated to think that he or she can achieve the best cartwheels and somersaults. All are taught that they can pursue their athletic goals, regardless of ability.
Gymnastics is a pre-operational sport. From my own experience, it can develop into a liking or aspiration for other athletic pursuits or even ballet. This is because it’s an unbeatable foundation course to stretching, jumping and keeping the joint muscles elastic. The benefit all around is that the student can work independently.
So far, the gymnasts here have taken part in GCC competitions alongside other GCC gymnastics clubs and have won more than 30 medals. One of our own, Sara Al Jabri, obtained the All Around title (bars, beam, floor and vault.) in the Level 1 Under 10 category in Dubai.
Romanian head coach Lonela Yammine, who started gymnastics at the age of six, set up Muscat Gymnastics through her own love of the sport. and later brought over fellow Romanian Alexandra Gheorghica to help coach.
Lonela says: “After attending a gymnastics congress in Canada I decided to open Muscat Gymnastics. Soon after the preparations we opened our doors in January 2015 and here we are today teaching gymnastics for children aged two and above.
“There are many girls doing gymnastics at our club at different levels and age groups who are very talented. Our target this year is to participate in Level 3 gymnastics competition in Chicago in February 2017.”
Alexandra says coaching in the Sultanate is not dissimilar from what is available in her homeland.
“There is a small difference. In Romania, most of the programmes are competitive while in Oman we offer pre-school and recreational programmes as well. What I like about the programme in Oman is that we believe all children can do gymnastics, and we encourage them to participate.”
Her experience in Oman has so far been positive.
“I feel like we are working as a family. I always get support from the other coaches. The atmosphere is always a good one. We try to involve the children as much as possible in their classes as our aim is to get the best out of every student, keeping things interesting for them during the whole season.”