Durante, Reynolds Eager for Podium Competition
Morgan Reynolds and the Gymdogs last performed on podium at the 2016 NCAA Super Six in Fort Worth, Texas.
Feb. 15, 2017

By: Jackie Kinney, UGA Sports Communications Student Assistant

For the majority of the regular season, the Gymdogs compete on equipment placed on a concrete or carpet floor. This weekend, the setup changes. They will compete with the equipment on a raised surface, or a podium, for the first time in 2017.

The podium is meant to reflect a stage, raised to an elevated level usually reserved for the postseason in NCAA gymnastics. It adds to the atmosphere as an amplified platform of energy against strong competition.

“It’s really a cool feeling of competing,” head coach Danna Durante said. “We view it as excitement, because it feels like a championship meet.”

The gymnasts’ initial chance to compete on podium usually presents itself at the Southeastern Championships and continues through the postseason. Their competition on Friday at the Mardi Gras Invitational in Missouri, however, will be the Gymdogs’ first podium outing of the season, ahead of schedule from years past.

This Friday with LSU, Oklahoma and Missouri, will be an opportunity to sift through adjustments before the SEC Championships in Jacksonville, particularly for the freshmen who have yet to compete on podium.

With more bounce in the floor, the podium setting is easier on the body and prevents the athlete from coming into direct contact with the concrete. The surface affects the floor and vault routines, providing gymnasts with more height and more speed, according to senior Morgan Reynolds.

A podium setup also means different timing and more adjustments. Nothing routine-altering, but minor modifications that will be ironed out in the practice on the podium on Thursday, the day before the Friday competition.

The only other difference in the podium events, according to the Georgia gymnasts, remains in where their teammates can stand during an event. In podium, they are not directly next to them; they are a bit below them, forcing the cheers and the encouragement to be slightly further away.

“That just means we’re screaming louder,” Reynolds said.

For the audience, the podium magnifies the gymnast, placing an even larger lens on the routine, which is a shift Reynolds prefers.

“In the bigger meets, you want everyone to have your eyes on each event,” Reynolds said. “I like to perform. I like to be on stage, and I think everyone else does too.”



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