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Gómez Goes for Golden Sweep in Costa Rica
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The only Olympian in the field, Guatemalan Ana Sofía Gómez looks headed for a golden sweep at the 10th Central American Games in San José, Costa Rica, where gymnastics competition begins Wednesday.

The only Olympian in the field, Guatemalan Ana Sofía Gómez looks headed for a golden sweep at the 10th Central American Games in San José, Costa Rica, where gymnastics competition begins Wednesday.

Gómez, who turned 17 in November, is a heavy favorite to shine as Guatemala returns to the event after a seven-year absence.

The president of Costa Rica officially opened the Central American Games on Sunday. This year's event features nearly 3,000 athletes competing in in 26 sports representing seven nations — Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. The event is held every four years, though it was moved ahead one year to 2013 and will next take place in 2017.

"I am very excited to start the new Olympic cycle," said Gómez, who is coached by Romanian natives Adrian and Elena Boboc. "These will be the first senior Central American Games for me, so I hope the whole team will improve our routines."

Gómez finished fifth all-around and fourth on balance beam at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, and second all-around and first on balance beam at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara. At last summer's Olympics in London, she qualified to the all-around final, finishing 22nd.

Gymnastics is a relatively undeveloped sport in Central America, a region historically plagued by political and economic instability. The women's competition will feature just 10 gymnasts competing for individual honors.

In addition to Gomez, the gymnasts on the roster are Karla Gutierrez, Karina Regidor and Mariana Sanchez (Costa Rica), Marcela Aparicio and Gabriella Sandoval (El Salvador), Alexa Grande and Monica Yool (Guatemala), Kaisa Chirinos (Honduras) and Isabella Amado (Panama). Regidor is the defending champion from the 2010 Central American Games in Panama.

Puerto Rican judge Yazaira Cabrera-Dávila, the technical director for the women's competition, told IG on Monday that despite the intimate field, gymnastics is on the rise in the region.

"Gymnastics is definitely growing in the area," she said. "Guatemala right now is the country with the most experience, having Ana Sofía Gómez."

Many of the region's young talents are ineligible for this year's event in San José,  noted Cabrera-Dávila, a member of the Women's Technical Committee of the Pan American Gymnastics Union (PAGU).

"Other countries are slowly building their programs," she said. "Their gymnasts are still juniors and will not compete at these Games, which are for seniors only. I am refering to Panamá — Andres Llanos, coach of Colombian Olympian Nathalia Sanchez is working there — and Costa Rica. Club Carbonell in Costa Rica won the 2012 PAGU Pan-American Club Age-Group Championship (ages 11-12) last November in Bolivia. The club's women's coach, Arturo Padilla, has a bunch of great junior gymnasts coming up this year."

Podium training at the Central American Games takes place Tuesday at San José's Gimnasio Nacional Eddy Cortés, followed by day one of competition on Wednesday.

External Link: Official Website

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