Illinois junior gymnast competes in Taiwan

Illinois´ Adam Pummer competes on the high bar Friday at the Mixed Pairs meet at Huff Hall. Online Poster

Illinois´ Adam Pummer competes on the high bar Friday at the Mixed Pairs meet at Huff Hall. Online Poster

By Mike Czapar

Monday was business as usual for junior Illinois gymnast Adam Pummer – finals studying and gymnastics practice at Kenney Gym. Tuesday will be a little more atypical – Pummer will be on his way to Taiwan to compete in the Taipei International Invitational on Dec. 18 and 19.

The prestigious competition is by invitation only and features top athletes from around the world. Participants compete in teams of two, and Pummer will pair up with former Penn State standout Kevin Tan.

Senior Illini Ben Newman was originally slated to partner with Pummer but was unable to attend because of a flight mix-up. Due to Newman’s absence, Pummer will compete with the only other U.S. athlete invited.

Pummer said he is honored to be invited to such an esteemed meeting of talented gymnasts and is looking forward to competing overseas.

“I’m really excited to be over there and face some really great competition,” Pummer said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun for me – I haven’t competed overseas in a couple years.”

Pummer will be competing in four events, leaving Tan to participate in the pommel horse and his forte – the still rings, an event at which he is a two-time national champion.

Head coach Yoshi Hayasaki will join Pummer and Tan in Taipei and is looking forward to seeing a member of his squad perform at the international level.

“This is an opportunity for Adam to compete against some of the top gymnasts from other countries,” Hayasaki said. “I think this is really going to add to their ability to compete under pressure – to compete against really talented gymnasts. It’s a big plus for Adam heading into the season.”

After only one exhibition, Pummer will make a huge jump to compete at an international competition.

Hayasaki said he is excited to see Pummer competing at such a high level so early in the season.

“I think this competition is going to really add to his confidence,” Hayasaki said. “He’s going to be heading into a great level of competition suddenly, and in that respect I think it’s going to help him get ready for the season. I wish I had more guys going.”

The rest of the men’s gymnastics team will resume competition Jan. 8 at the Windy City Invitational.