American gymnast Ava Verdeflor came out short in the medal round in the recent Junior Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championship in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, but managed to salvage points to qualify for the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China.
The 15-year-old Verdeflor, a native of Tarlac City based in Dallas, Texas, finished ninth among 30 athletes from 22 countries in the overall individual standings as she broke the 30-point qualifying standard for this year’s Youth Games slated August 17 to 27.
“Ava scored 30.3 points in the overall execution. Ava was the lone gymnast from the Philippines, yet she performed well. We are proud of her,” said Cynthia Carrion, president of the Gymnastics Association of the Philippines.
Trained at the famous World Olympic Gymnastics Academy, co-owned by former five-time world champion Yevgeny Marchenko and Russian acrobatics great Valeri Liukin, Verdeflor showed grace and strength against rivals from powerhouse teams such as South Korea, Japan and China.
“I’m happy and feeling blessed with my performance. As a sole representative of the Philippines in the Youth Olympics qualifying event, I felt pressure, but I managed to keep my composure,” said Verdeflor, currently the country’s No.1 junior gymnast and reigning Philippine National Games champion.
With Verdeflor’s successful stint, the country’s list of qualified athletes for the quadrennial games for athletes aged 16 years and under was raised to six as she joined recurve archers Luis Gabriel Moreno and Bianca Gotuaco, golfers Princess Superal and Mia Legaspi and judoka Kiyomi Watanabe.
Carrion said Verdeflor is a work in progress as she needs more support from the Philippine Sports Commission for her training and additional exposure in the international competitions in time for the Youth Olympics.The Pacers will try to bounce back when they host game two on Tuesday.