Anna Beth Garner and Josh Jarriel have been gymnasts for only two years.
Gymnastics Gold athletes Dillon Smith (from left) Anna Beth Garner and Josh Jarriel.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Despite their relative inexperience, they represented Gymnastics Gold to win gold medals in the individual all-around at the Amateur Athletic Union Nationals in Orlando, Fla.
Garner, 14, won the Level 3 championship at her first AAU National competition.
"I expected to do well," said Garner. "But I didn't think I would get first."
The home-schooler said she wanted to get into gymnastics because it "looked fun."
Garner started the meet with her best-ever finish in vault, then got second in balance beam and first in the floor exercise and the uneven bars.
"I was nervous when the meet started, but I got settled down after the first (rotation)," said Garner.
Jarriel, 16, won the Level 6 individual all-around title with three first place finishes in the individual events.
He won floor exercise, vault and parallel bars and had second-place finishes in the pommel horse and still rings.
"I just got into it because I could flip a little," said the junior at John S. Davidson Fine Arts School. "It was something to do after school."
In comparison, Dillon Smith has been in gymnastics for most of his life.
The 15-year-old Westside junior has been training at Gymnastics Gold nearly as long as he has been able to walk.
Smith said he has been "serious" about the sport for the last five years.
Last year, he won the Level 6 AAU individual all-around title.
This year, Smith took home the Level 7 title.
"I'm really proud of my gymnastics accomplishments," Smith said. "Hopefully, I can do the same next year."
Jarriel said Smith pushes him in the gym and that is one of the reasons he has been successful.
"Dillon has been at it a long time and he definitely makes me better," said Jarriel. "It isn't a serious competition. We want each other to win."
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