Glasgow bound: Zantae Dill in action. *Photo supplied
Glasgow bound: Zantae Dill in action. *Photo supplied

A bullish and upbeat Bermuda Gymnastics Association warned rival nations they are not going to the Commonwealth Games ‘for a vacation’.

Head coach Duke Nelligan was effusive in his praise for the four girls who were yesterday confirmed as the island’s representatives in Glasgow this summer — Zantae Dill, 15, Sydney Mason, 15, Gabby Vincent, 16, and Morgan Beckles, 18.

It will be the highest-profile event all have competed in and a major step up from last year’s Island Games, when Nelligan admitted Bermuda received ‘an education’ from the Isle of Man.

Bermuda’s foursome are the only ones of the current crop of Southside gym talent that will be 16, and therefore eligible, for the Games in July.

But with Beckles recovering well from a wrist injury at New York College at Cortland and the other three all impressing with their progress in the gym, Nelligan is optimistic.

“I would love to see one of the girls make the finals,” he told the Bermuda Sun. “That would be a real indication we are moving in the right direction

He added: “It’s up to the girls to really stand up — I have high hopes for all of them. They are doing what we are asking, we have upped their work load from the  Island Games, we are doing more and I’d say 60 per cent of it now is conditioning. 

“From there when we are asking them to do big skills, like you see on TV, our girls are starting to do that.”

Nelligan did offer a note of caution, though. He knows the UK nations will be strong off the back of a  successful Olympics and cited the likes of Australia and Canada as having strong teams all motivated to knock the UK off their perch.

Such a big international meet will ‘be the girls’ first test without a doubt’, he said. The question, therefore, is how well can they handle the pressure of the big stage.

He said: “It’s going to be difficult but we are not going to the Commonealths for a vacation, we are going to compete, we will put our best foot forward to make sure we put the best routines in possible and to make sure the next lot of little ones are motivated to be the next ones to take Bermuda to the top.”

This Saturday the girls, except for Beckles, will be part of the squad competing in Chicago at the  IGI ‘Chicago Style’ Gymnastics Meet.

Also involved are Danielle Wall and Clara James, both 14, who will travel to Aracaju, Brazil on March 24 to attend the Junior Pan American Championships.

Nelligan added: ‘All the girls are going [to Chicago] and we will use it to see how they compete.”

He added: “The scores are not as important as the placings. 

“We will use that to see how they stack up.”