We need to talk about the “new normal” for our sport

Letter of IRV President Henning Henningsen

The COVID-19 pandemic influences a wide range of activities of our personal, business and sporting lives. IRV President Henning Henningsen has discussed with his team about the “new normal” for the sport of Wheel Gymnastics, how the IRV as federation need to adapt its structures for the future and if the 2021 competitions can take place.

Dear Wheel Gymnasts,

We all are facing a challenging time at the moment. Championships have been cancelled or postponed; training sessions have had to be stopped for months. It is great to see that some of you are already back in the gym for training. Others have found creative solutions to keep up with their training through virtual sessions via Zoom, WhatsApp or other digital channels. The passion you all have to overcome the current obstacles is fabulous.

At the beginning of September, I met my IRV colleagues virtually, to discuss how we as a federation can find answers to the most important questions you might have:

  • Will the postponed World Championships in New Jersey take place in 2021?
  • Will we be able to meet for the Team World Championships in Leipzig next year?
  • How might the IRV World Championships look like after the pandemic?
  • How might we compete in the future, if we are still facing travel restrictions, quarantine periods or other challenges when traveling around the world?

You might have additional questions, for your personal well-being, in the interest of your club or national federation. To be honest, we do not have 100% certainty that everything we discuss and decide today, will last until tomorrow. Everything is subject to change.

However, we as the IRV want to offer some alternatives for wheel gymnasts around the world. We want to provide an innovative platform to facilitate access to our sport and build bridges between wheel gymnastics enthusiasts (according to our IRV Mission Statement).

IRV Online Competitions

We have therefore decided to introduce a new competition format: IRV Online Competitions. Everybody can take part in this competition format. You just need to record your routine in a safe space where you can perform your full routine. Ask your coach, teammates, friends or family to support you with the video. Our team has put some tips together to help you: e.g. the best position camera position, the required video format and where/how to upload a video.

We plan to hold the Online Competition once a month, each month with a different discipline or focus (e.g. straight-line with music one month, spiral another month, Cyr artistic programme another month, etc.). We will announce the online competitions as events on our website, so that you can see when a particular discipline can be submitted as a video. You can record and submit your videos in the registration period for around 3 weeks. Afterwards, a group of IRV invited judges will evaluate the submitted routines together in an online judging session. The gymnasts can expect to receive a score and some simple feedback from the judges. We hope this kind of evaluation will help each gymnast to improve his/her routine.

As we have no idea how many of you will be interested in taking part in this form of competition, we have not yet thought about age groups or other forms of categorisation. This might come at a later stage once we have gathered some experience and received some feedback from you.

Our 1st IRV Online Competition will start with straight-line routines without music on 1 October 2020. The judging session will take place via Zoom at the end of October.

We also appreciate competition hosts offering virtual spots for their on-site events. Organisers of the Austrian Open in Salzburg, as well as the Danish Open in Sonderburg agreed to offer a small number of virtual slots for their competition. Gymnasts can register for the events and the routine will be judged in a video conference (Zoom) from the on-site competition jury.

2021 Championships: Will they take place?

In March 2020 we decided to postpone the 2020 World Championships in New Jersey, USA. The new date for the postponed World Championships is now from 12-18 July 2021.

However, the situation around the COVID-19 pandemic is keeping us in suspense. We have been in close contact with the local organisers in the US to discuss the options and get more information about the local circumstances in New Jersey. We all agreed that it is still too early to make a final decision about the 2021 New Jersey event. Nevertheless, a cancellation is still a possible option if we cannot guarantee a safe environment for our athletes and delegation members. We also need to take financial factors into consideration, as cancellation fees will apply if we have to cancel the event at short notice. USA Wheel Gymnastics agreed with the IRV to have a deadline for cancellation in March 2021 for the event in July 2021.

We have also been in contact with the organising committee of the 2021 Team World Championships to take place during the “German Gymnastics Festival” in Leipzig in May 2021. The local organiser is still in discussion with the local authorities and asked for some time to clarify the infection control standards and regulatory requirements for the festival in general. As soon as this is done, we will start the discussion on how the 2021 TWC can be held. Our goal is to have a decision for Leipzig by January 2021.

I know that we all have to find our own ways to work around the pandemic. It has a huge impact on our daily activities. However, I ask you to act responsibly, think about others as well as yourselves, and stay safe. We will find ways to overcome the challenges and see each other in person sometime in the future.

If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact the IRV team and we will discuss your open questions and concerns.

Best, Henning + Team

Henning Henningsen
Henning HenningsenIRV President
Henning is leading the IRV as president since 2015. He is most proud of all the voluntary people working with him to make #WheelGymnastics a sought-after sport.

Upcoming Online Competitions