BROOKFIELD, Conn. -- Six-year-old Macie Montaina and 11-year-old Ziya Shabazz-Williams -- who are both students at Kratos Gymnastics & Cheer in Brookfield -- recently won gold when they competed at the Nutmeg State Games.
Macie, who is a New Fairfield resident, won four gold medals and one bronze medal.
Ziya, who is a Danbury resident, took home five gold medals — winning in every category she competed in: floor, beam, bars, vault and all-around.
The Nutmeg State Games, which held its gymnastics competition at Pomperaug High School in Southbury, is the largest amateur multi-sport sporting event in Connecticut.
"It's like a miniature Olympic Games for the State of Connecticut," said Ashley Anton, who owns Kratos with her husband, Mihael Anton.
According to Ashley Anton, at the Nutmeg Games, each gymnast competes individually as well as on part of a large regional team — North, South, East or West — based on where they live in Connecticut.
"Although each gymnast competes as in individual, the scores for every participant in each region are tallied up at the end of all competitions (regardless of the level the participant competed) to decide the winning team.
"Both Macie and Ziya represented the West and their personal success greatly contributed to their teams ability to take home the gold," she said.
Through their winning performance at the Nutmeg State Games, both girls qualified to compete in the State Games of America. Those games will be held at the DeVos Place Convention Center in Grand Rapids, Mich., in August 2017.
Macie has been training in gymnastics for a year-and-a-half and practices 18 hours a week. She said she was excited to participate in the Nutmeg Games.
"The beam was a little rough, but I still tried my best and was still happy," she said.
Macie said the floor is her strongest event. "I like that you can actually feel the movement," she said.
She said she is inspired by other gymnasts and hopes to "keep trying and working hard and making my routines perfect."
Ziya has been training in gymnastics since she was 8. On the day of her competition, her first event was beam, which is 4 feet high and 4 inches wide. "The beam is the most challenging for me because you have to do hard skills on a thin piece of wood," she said.
Ziya said the floor is her all-time favorite event. "I love how I get to make up my own routine," said Ziya, who practices 12 hours a week.
Ziya is also a dancer, and has been dancing since she was two-and-a-half years old. "Dance helps with gymnastics. I can apply my dance technique to my gymnastics routines," she said.
Ziya offered advice to kids who want to be successful in gymnastics -- or in any other sport. "Don't let anybody tell you that you can't do something," she said. "Don't let your fear get in the way of pursuing your dreams."
Kratos Gymnastics & Cheer, which opened in 2011. The gym has 400 students who compete both recreationally and competitively. Mihael Anton competed on the Romanian Men's National Olympic Team.
This is Kratos' first competitive season as a gym and its first Nutmeg State Games. "Macie and Ziya were the the only Gold winners out of approximately 25 for their level," they said.
"For us, gymnastics is more of passion than a business," Ashley Anton said. "Every day, our focus is always on how we can bring the best out of each student as an individual. Both my husband and I had our own roadblocks and frustrations with coaches in the past. This really inspires both of us to give our absolute best to our students."
For more information on Kratos Gymnastics & Cheer, click here or call 203-448-5585. Kratos Gymnastics & Cheer is at 28 Old Grays Bridge Road, Brookfield.
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