Dealing with apathy at house, US athletes rally supporters on social media

2016 Rio Olympics – Rhythmic Gymnastics – Preliminary – Person All-All over Qualification – Rotation 1 – Rio Olympic Arena – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 19/08/2016. Laura Zeng (United states) of Usa competes working with the ball. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

CHICAGO, July 18 (Reuters) – Since she began instruction as a rhythmic gymnast at the age of seven, America’s Laura Zeng has occur to realise that most people today in her region do not know considerably about her activity.

The 21-12 months-aged competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is a 6-time countrywide champion and is her country’s most effective shot at a medal in rhythmic gymnastics at the Tokyo Olympics.

But there is small fanfare, or funding, for rhythmic gymnastics in the United States.

So Zeng and her group mates have turned to social media to rally admirers, inform the general public and retain up with what the competitiveness is up to ahead of the Online games.

“Social media has aided rhythmic gymnastics extend not just in the United States but globally as well,” Zeng reported.

“Why would you set your kid in something that would not pay dividends? If you do inventive gymnastics you know there is certainly numerous different routes that you could go.”

United states of america Gymnastics has ramped up its marketing and guidance of rhythmic gymnastics, even working a video sequence on Instagram to enable demonstrate the activity to a broader viewers.

“The selection of rhythmic members has fluctuated more than the previous various many years, but from the 2014-15 period to the 2019-20 time, there was a full raise of more than 34% in rhythmic customers,” a spokeswoman for the organisation stated.

Having said that, inventive gymnast Nastia Liukin said rhythmic gymnastics had a perception difficulty.

“It is just not as well-known as artistic,” reported the 2008 Beijing Olympics all-all over winner. “When you say the word ‘gymnastics’, you feel of flips,”

United states Gymnastics’ principal Instagram webpage has far more than 800,000 followers, about 100 moments a lot more than the official rhythmic gymnastics tackle.


Faced with such apathy, Zeng’s group mate Evita Griskenas has taken to Instagram, Facebook and TikTok to increase her profile, and posts weblogs to teach individuals.

“The mindset from individuals in the United States has often been: ‘rhythmic gymnastics? Is that the point with the ribbons?'” she mentioned.

“Permitting individuals know that it is not just managing about with a ribbon like a headless rooster would be kind of awesome.”

An Olympic medal party given that 1984, rhythmic gymnastics is performed in unique and team competitions employing hoops, balls, clubs and ribbons.

Gymnasts are judged on numerous elements, such as how they use the equipment – throws, tosses, spins and catches, for instance. They are also marked on “overall body challenges” these types of as balances, turns, and jumps, as effectively as execution and artistry.

Jap European international locations have invested a lot more seriously in rhythmic gymnastics than the United States and the activity has been popular in previous Soviet states for decades.

Thanks to powerful guidance and infrastructure, Eastern European rhythmic gymnasts have been far more ready to teach and compete domestically for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, a definite benefit about their U.S. counterparts.

“It is really a enormous matter, the inequality of the activity, if you review its reputation right here in the United States versus in Japanese European international locations,” Zeng reported.

Zeng has cultivated an Instagram subsequent of approximately 16,000 but that determine pales in comparison to the roughly 340,000 followers of Russian twins Dina and Arina Averina, who are envisioned to vie for gold and silver in Tokyo.

Israel’s Linoy Ashram, yet another medal possibility, has additional than 60,000 followers. read more

Nevertheless, this is the very first time the United States has been able to send a total delegation of rhythmic gymnasts to the Olympics since the Online games included the team level of competition in 1996.

“With a prospect to make the finals, we are actually a activity to enjoy,” Zeng said.

Reporting by Richa Naidu Editing by Peter Rutherford

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