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Clarksburg Gymnast Places Third in Largest Gymnastics Competition in the World

Flying high is part of the thrill of gymnastics, according to 17-year-old Christian Marsh, but flying high and doing vaults and tumbling routines on a platform was something new.

Marsh, a senior at Clarksburg High School, placed third in the all-around competition among 17/18-year-old boys at the prestigious Metroplex Challenge gymnastics meet held in Fort Worth, Texas on the last weekend in January. The Metroplex Challenge is the largest gymnastic competition in the world. It is comprised of men’s and women's’ gymnastics for juniors and adults, as well as an important women’s NCAA tournament, and a national trampoline and tumbling competition.

Although he’s been competing since he was six years old, this competition was different. He said it was a bit intimidating because of the big stage. Not a figurative big stage, a really big stage.

“It was on a stage, or a platform. All of the events were on these platforms which were raised up off the floor. It was a little nerve-wracking to realize that, ‘Hey, if I tumble too far I am literally falling off.’

“I was nervous coming into the competition,” which is an important tune-up before the National Championships which will be held in Cincinnati in May. “Then I get there and discover that all the events take place on a podium that is three or four feet off the ground, on top of the events being quite high. The rings tower itself is like 19-feet high, and the rings dangle about 10 feet off the ground. So, you add the rings tower, the landing mats, and the podium and you start to see that the competition takes place very high off the ground.”

“It was truly something special to fly from Maryland to Texas and compete,” said Marsh, who trains at Preston Gymnastics Academy in Gaithersburg. “Texas has one of the biggest and best gymnastics regions in the country. The gymnasts there are very, very highly skilled. I came into this one never expected to place. The Texas boys always bring their A-game. They are always on top of it.”

Marsh said when he starts to think about the level of competition and the height of the events it took all he had to stay focused. “I’d look around I start to get nervous and jittery, and I have to calm myself down and take deep breaths. I imagine myself going through the motions and try to slow my heart rate down. I don’t want to be too amped and throw off my balance. I gave it my all and did the best I could. I just happened to come out in the top three.”

Not only did Marsh finish third in the All-Around competition, but he also finished first in the competition on Pommel Horse event, came in third