Bajan gymnasts Kelly, Pilgrim celebrate small victories from World Champs outing

By October 03, 2023
Barbadian gymnasts Olivia Kelly (second left) and Anya Pilgrim (second right) are flanked by their coaches Ashley Umberger (left) and Jenny Rowland in Antwerp, Belgium. Barbadian gymnasts Olivia Kelly (second left) and Anya Pilgrim (second right) are flanked by their coaches Ashley Umberger (left) and Jenny Rowland in Antwerp, Belgium. contributed

Things may not have gone exactly how Barbados artistic gymnasts Olivia "Storm' Kelly and Anya Pilgrim would have hoped, but both still had some significant positives to boast from their FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium.

An historic Olympic Games qualification was the main target for the American-based Kelly and Pilgrim, and though they came up short in that regards, both took heart from their respective performances on Monday. 

Pilgrim, who was making her World Championships debut, welcomed the fact that she was able to overcome certain obstacles among the minor successes worth celebrating.

She tallied 46.500 All-Around, with scores of 13.100 on vault, 10.700 on uneven bars, 11.300 on the balance beam and 11.400 on her floor routine. 

"I wholly enjoyed the experience. I hit all of my routines this time, even the skill that has been gave me some trouble at PanAms. So even though I did not have much preparation, I was able to do well, and I am happy with the outcome and the support I got from family and others on the island which makes me even prouder," Pilgrim told SportsMax.tv.

"I believe my score was an improvement from PanAms but of course the judging is much tighter at an event like World Championships. So, again, I am delighted that I was able to hit my beam routine which has been my troublesome event after my injury last year," the Jenny Rowland-coached gymnast added.

Given the fact that her inclusion in the Championships was somewhat last minute, the 18-year-old Pilgrim says her performance speaks volumes of her scope for improvement. 

She pointed out that it will serve as a springboard for her to attain other goals and ambitions she has set for the season, particularly with her University of Florida team.

 "I am just going to soak up the atmosphere here in Belgium while I reflect on the experience before returning to Florida to resume training for my NCAA season. This season, the goal, of course, would be to win a National Championship with my team, and achieve some personal bests of my own," she declared.

"And since I had to prepare my routines so early, I now have built up my endurance and stamina to complete routines on each event way before my season which will help me a lot. So now I can focus more on the details," Pilgrim shared. 

For Kelly, it was her second appearance on the World Championships stage, and she beamed about the prospects, as she also expressed delight about improvements from last year's outing.

The 17-year-old, coached by Ashley Umberger, had scores of 13.200 on vault, 11.666 on uneven bars, 11.933 on the balance beam and 11.700 on her floor routine for an All-Around total of 48.499 for 75th overall. She rose three places higher than the 78th position she achieved last year.

"They took the top 14 girls, who are not on a team and the girl that placed 14th has a 49.965 and I finished with a 48.499 which means I basically just missed out. But even though I didn’t qualify here at Worlds, there are a few other opportunities I can use to qualify, but that depends on if Barbados will send me," Kelly explained. 

"The experience was amazing overall. I’m not exactly sure what the plan is now, but if those opportunities are presented to me by Barbados, I will take them gladly. If not, I remain contented with how my elite season ended this year and I’m excited to start my new chapter in college next summer," she noted.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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