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Harlem Gymnasts Headed to World Championship

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After a successful showing at the USA Gymnastics Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma, back in June, Harlem gymnasts Bailey “B.J.” Mensah, 18, and ZaQuae Carter, 17, are set to represent Team USA at the upcoming Tumbling and Trampoline Gymnastics World Championship in Birmingham, Great Britain. 

Both gymnasts have clinched coveted positions on the U.S. Senior National Men’s Team. B.J. will represent the U.S. in Tumbling. He’ll also compete in Double Mini at the World Age Group Championships. Zaquae will compete in Tumbling at WAGS and is an alternate for Tumbling for the Seniors. However, this isn’t their first international radio. 

“Before this season, I had only competed in one international competition, the World Age Group competition in Baku, Azerbaijan,” B.J. shared with The Black Wall Street Times

In 2021, B.J. finished as the top U.S. Tumbler in his age division in Baku. 

At just 16, ZaQuae marked his inaugural appearance in an international competition in Sofia, Bulgaria. He achieved a remarkable seventh-place finish, attaining an impressive overall score of 23.900.

Receiving training from a former World Champion

Renowned T&T coach and former World Champion Roger Walker, of CAVU Trampoline & Tumbling coach, trains both athletes. B.J. and ZaQuae represent the Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation

Carter and Mensah embarked on their training journeys at tender ages.

Once both Harlem gymnasts became more competitive, they transitioned to CAVU under the guidance of Coach Walker. 

“I’ve been competing for about ten or eleven years. In the middle of that, I did artistic gymnastics for about two months before switching back to Trampoline and Tumbling,” B.J. shares.

Harlem Gymnasts Headed to World Championship Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation
Bailey “B.J.” Mensah in midflight | Photo courtesy of Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation

ZaQuae says he “started competing at age ten and has been for around seven years now.” He says he was drawn to the sport because it looked cool. 

Notably, BJ is the son of Wendy Hilliard. Hilliard is the first Black American rhythmic gymnast to compete as a member of the U.S. National Team

“We could not be prouder of B.J. and ZaQuae,” said Wendy HilliardUSA Gymnastics Hall of Famer and Founder of the Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation. “They are both incredibly talented young athletes, and we can’t wait for them to show the world what years of hard work and dedication looks like.”

The athletes then shared what excites them the most about their upcoming trip across the pond to represent Team USA. 

What Harlem gymnasts BJ and ZaQuae are most eagerly anticipating.

“I’m most excited to see my friends from all over the country. Since we all share a mutual interest in the sport. Everyone is so supportive,” B.J. expresses. 

ZaQuae says, “For this upcoming competition, I’m excited to get back to competing. After being injured for three and a half months, I want to return with a stronger mindset and a better plan.” 

Related Stories

What is Power Tumbling and Double-Mini Trampoline? 

Power tumbling is a gymnastics discipline involving acrobatic flips, twists, and somersaults on a specialized spring track. Unlike artistic gymnastics, where athletes perform routines on various apparatuses, power tumbling focuses exclusively on floor exercises and tumbling skills.

Double-mini trampoline (DMT) is a gymnastics discipline that involves a small, rectangular trampoline called a double-mini. Athletes perform a combination of acrobatic skills, including flips and twists, on this apparatus. The double-mini trampoline consists of two horizontal mats separated by a sloping, spring-loaded transition area.

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