Medals of gold, silver and bronze were placed around the necks of grinning gymnasts Sunday evening at Robinson Gymnasium, completing the first gymnastics competition ever at the Sunflower State Games.
Commissioner Kelly Dirks, part owner of Lawrence Gymnastics Academy, said he was pleased with the turnout of 48 competitors in the girls competition. The boys competition had to be canceled because only 11 entered and at least 20 were needed.
The cancellation was a letdown for male gymnasts who wanted to compete, said volunteer Jack Gies, Topeka. He and his son, one of the few male gymnasts in Kansas, still came and helped out with the girls' competition.
"I think we will have more boys next year," Gies said.
The low numbers of boys are partially due to the fact that the Sunflower State Games are held during the offseason for gymnastics. Even so, Dirks also predicted that the competition will expand in future years for both sexes.
Despite the offseason predicament, the girls who did compete spent long hours training for competition on the vault, uneven bars, beam and floor. Missy Linnens, an 11-year-old who trains with Lawrence Gymnastic Academy, said she spent 18 hours in the gym last week preparing.
Cindy Kramer, Lawrence, said her two daughters, who are also on the Lawrence Gymnastics Academy team, practice an average of 10 to 12 hours per week. Sunday's competition went smoothly, said Kramer, and she was pleased.
Kramer noted that the girls had been recently watching gymnastics and comparing themselves to Olympic athletes.
"It's tough after they've watched the Olympics on television," Kramer said.
Kansas Kips from Lenexa, Lawrence Gymnastics Academy, Heartland from Great Bend, Kansas School of Gymnastics from Lawrence, Smokey Hill from Abilene, McPherson and Manhattan were the seven teams represented at the meet.