Plant City gymnast takes on USA Gymnastics Championships

Amari Jackson of Plant City heads to Des Moines this week as the nation’s top goblet in her age group.

Plant City’s Amari Jackson and his team traveled to Des Moines, Iowa this week for the 2022 United States Gymnastics Championships.

The competition sees gymnasts of different age groups come together from across the country to compete among the best the United States has to offer. At just 12 years old, Jackson takes on 13- and 14-year-old competitors at the Youth Elite level in tumbling, with that competition starting on Thursday. She also competes in level 10 double mini trampoline in the 13 and 14 age group, holding first place until the first rounds on Tuesday and the finals following Wednesday.

At last year’s US Championships, Jackson qualified at Level 10 for tumbling and double mini trampoline – with Level 10 made up of 11- and 12-year-old competitors, the highest level of competition in the USA Gymnastics Junior program. Olympics – and won gold in tumbling. . This year, she qualified to compete at the elite level in tumbling and challenged herself to move up an age group while focusing primarily on tumbling, her most successful discipline.

And while competing at the national level again this year is a massive achievement in itself, it presents an even greater opportunity. If Jackson can finish in the top three in Des Moines, she’ll earn the chance to represent the United States at the 2022 Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.

“She’s just focused on the tumbling part right now,” her dad Hasani Jackson said. “She retired from the gymnastics part because she was doing very well in tumbling. She will come back to bars and beam at the beginning of the next seasons, but she really has a narrow vision to reach Bulgaria in tumbling. C So that’s where she is now.

To reach this year’s US Championships, Jackson had to compete at the district, state and regional level. She has won gold at every event, most recently in April at the 2022 Elite Challenge in Irving, Texas with a score of 43.834. In fact, her score at a previous event in Dallas qualified her for the United States Championships without needing to compete in Irving, but she still competed and finished the weekend on the highest again. top step of the podium.

With lofty goals in mind, Jackson is already undergoing rigorous training as she trains at Lakeland five days a week for 11 months of the year while being homeschooled to accommodate the schedule that comes with this level. of competition. And despite not competing until later in the week, Jackson left early with her team on Sunday to continue training throughout the week.

In December, the Jackson family will have another big decision to make as she has the option of turning professional and even starting Olympic training at the age of 13, but her father says it’s a decision to be made. time comes.

“That’s the thing, because she wants to go to the University of Florida or, I think, she mentioned UCLA. She wants to go to one of those schools,” Hasani Jackson said. “So she really wants to pursue his dream, but it’s far away. She’s 12, so we try to let her enjoy being a 12-year-old. But it’s tough, it’s very tough for her age, and I don’t think she really has her future planned out right now. Like any other 12 year old, she has goals and dreams she wants to achieve and we are just here to support her in any way we can.

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