Gymnastics: Success judged more by smiles than points

For the youngest athletes, it's all about pure enjoyment.
By Kyle Fredrickson, For The Oklahoman Published: February 15, 2013
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photo - Members of the Boise State team stand during the national anthem before the Perfect 10 Challenge as part of the Bart & Nadia Sports & Health Festival at Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Members of the Boise State team stand during the national anthem before the Perfect 10 Challenge as part of the Bart & Nadia Sports & Health Festival at Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Childers, a gymnastics judge of 15 years and a coach of 35 years, said things ran smoothly on Friday as he watched the 6-year-olds on the uneven bars. But he understands there are more important things than high scores at events like this.

“We're not all going to be Olympians, they only want eight,” Childers said. “But these gymnasts are going to be able to get their life in order. They're going to be able to be organized. The benefits are going to be great.”

Those benefits include staying out of trouble, help with self-esteem and how to bounce back from adversity. So sure, Childers has a tough job. But most days it's more rewarding than a perfect 10.

“Rather than playing with Cheerios, they're practicing routines, staying on music and having expectations and requirements,” Childers said. “As you learn, your skill level increases. That's what it's all about.”

The event continues Saturday with the kickoff of the Bart and Nadia Sports & Health Festival at the Cox Convention Center from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The festival focuses on engaging families in healthy activity through Olympic, Paralympic and Special Olympic events. For ticket information, visit www. bartandnadiafestival.com.

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