Three Sooners to Represent U.S. in Peru

Patrick Dunn
By Patrick Dunn
Communications Assistant

NORMAN — Three current and former University of Oklahoma gymnasts are set to compete in this weekend’s 2018 Pan American Championships in Lima, Peru, at the Polideportivo N° 1.

Current Sooners’ senior Genki Suzuki and freshman Spencer Goodell will be competing on the U.S. team traveling to Lima, along with former OU gymnast Kanji Oyama.

“It’s going to be a great experience for all of them, to have the chance to compete against a lot of good South American countries and Canada, amongst others. It’s a really cool event.” said Oklahoma head coach Mark Williams.

Suzuki and Oyama claimed ninth and 10th all-around finishes, respectively, at last month’s U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Boston, earning them spots on the Pan-Am team this weekend.

Oyama, a 2016 OU graduate, claimed the bronze medal in the floor exercise at the U.S. Championships, along with top-10 finishes on parallel bars and high bar. Suzuki finished fourth on high bar and captured three other event top-10 spots.

“I think it’s pretty special for Genki,” said Williams. “He just became an American citizen, then made the U.S. national team and is now representing the U.S. in a fairly prestigious event in Lima. He’s worked really hard as an athlete here for years with the goal of doing something like this, so it’s great to see it all work out.

“Kanji has been a part of many U.S. events, so he’s more of a veteran in this situation. I’m hoping he can have a great competition and possibly get an individual medal on an event while he’s down there.”

Making his senior competition debut in Peru will be OU freshman Spencer Goodell, who took third in the U.S. junior-elite division all-around and tied for the juniors’ national title on still rings. Along with claiming a spot on the Pan-Am team, Goodell was named to the U.S. Junior Men’s National Team.

“For Spencer, this is his first senior competition. Even as a junior national team member, he was moved up to be a part of this group to help us qualify for the 2019 Pan-American Games. I’m excited for him to have this kind of opportunity,” says Williams.

Current and former Sooners Spencer Goodell (second from left), Kanji Oyama (middle) and Genki Suzuki (right) will begin competition Friday in Lima, Peru.

Former OU assistant coach Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons will serve as the team’s head coach at the championships. Abudllah-Simmons recently announced he will be moving to Australia following the Pan Am competition to coach at Gymnastics Victoria. He helped lead OU to three national titles as a student-athlete and three more as an assistant on Williams’ staff.

“It’s a nice opportunity for Taqiy as well, before he leaves to coach in Australia,” Williams said. “All in all, I think it will be neat event. It’s something they’ve been looking forward to doing as part of their careers and they’re getting the chance. It’s a unique place and Lima is around 5,000 feet in elevation so hopefully they are conditioned enough to handle the altitude.”

The meet will be aired on the Olympic Channel at 5 p.m. CT Friday, 9:30 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday.

Results from the 2018 Pan American Championships will be available on following the conclusion of the competition.

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