LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The U.S. elite gymnastics season is officially underway with the 2023 Winter Cup serving as the kickoff, and this season, two familiar faces have made the move to one of the powerhouse women’s gyms: World Champions Centre.
Gymnastics Now caught up with senior elites Tiana Sumanasekera and Joscelyn Roberson, who both made the move to train at WCC in Houston, Texas, in September.
WCC is best known as the home of Simone Biles and is owned by Biles’ parents, Ron and Nellie.
Sumanasekera and Roberson’s reasons for moving are similar and different all at once.
The seventeen-year-old Roberson, who previously trained at North East Texas Elite, said she made the move partially because her mom got a job in Houston.
“She really loves it,” Roberson told GymNow on Friday. “She is a chemist, so that’s why we decided to move, and I decided to go with her.”
In addition to an exciting new chapter for her mom, the 2022 Winter Cup vault champion said WCC provided her an opportunity to train with a team. Added bonus: she was able to make the move at the same time as Sumanasekera.
“It’s just so fun to be with the team and not be by yourself, because when you get down on yourself by yourself, it’s really hard to get out of it,” Roberson said of training at her previous gym. “But when you have a team that’s already laughing, and it’s like, okay, that was a bad turn, but you’re gonna go over here, you’re gonna crack a joke, and then you’re gonna be fine. Yeah, it’s been it’s been a big difference for sure.”
First-year senior Sumanasekera, who previously trained at West Valley Gymnastics School, echoed Roberson when asked about her decision to move.
“It’s been pretty hard training by myself,” Sumanasekera said. “But we’re with such a great group of girls. They’re amazing gymnasts, great personalities, and it’s just really easy to be in the gym when they’re feeding off the good energy. So it’s just really nice to have teammates like that.”
Sumanasekera, who will make her senior elite debut this weekend at Winter Cup, said her other main reason for moving was because of bars.
“Bars has definitely always been a huge struggle for me,” Sumanasekera explained. “I’m just very proud of how far I’ve come, and I really hope to do well.”
The four-time 2022 Pan Am gold medalist said her entire bar routine is new and took a lot of reworking to get it to where it is now.
“Laurent (Landi) and I were working on a bunch of different skills and took quite a bit of time to put it all together,” Sumanasekera said. “I’m just really happy with the routine and where I’m at right now.”
Sumanasekera is only competing on uneven bars and balance beam at Winter Cup after hurting her ankle at national team camp in late January. Roberson will compete on all four events, including doing two vaults: the double-twisting Yurchenko and a round-off half-on, front full off.