GymHawk shines bright against Illinois


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Rebecca Simbhudas may never forget her performance on Jan. 30.

The junior GymHawk dazzled people inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, finishing in at least a tie in all four events to capture the all-around title with a 39.400 score.

Her dominant individual performance wasn’t enough to help the Hawkeyes defeat Illinois, though, and Iowa dropped the dual meet, 195.225-192.950.

“It feels great because all of the hard work I’ve been doing in practice really showed,” Simbhudas said. “I was really pleased about it.”

The native of Markham, Ontario, scored a 9.850 both on the vault and uneven bars, then hit a 9.875 on the balance beam and finished her night by tallying a 9.825 on the floor exercise — claiming first place in vault while tying in the other three events.

Simbhudas said she used her struggles during the Hawkeyes’ first three meets as motivation for tougher practices. The third-year gymnast said she felt nothing out of the ordinary before the meet began.

Iowa head coach Larissa Libby said the coaching staff had talked to Simbhudas about keeping calm during meets.

“She took a lot of it to heart and practiced very, very hard this week on some of the things that get her frustrated in competition and re-evaluated where she is mentally,” Libby said.

Satisfied with all four of her routines, Simbhudus said, losing the dual disappointed her more than anything.

Meanwhile, sophomore and fellow all-arounder Jessa Hansen was more than proud of Simbhudas’ performance.

“She was just dead-on every event throughout the whole night,” Hansen said. “She stuck her vault, and then it just like escalated from there.”

Libby said being an all-arounder puts pressure on a gymnast to carry a team. But now that Simbhudas has set the bar high, more will be expected of her in the future.

“There’s no question that she’s a great gymnast,” Libby said. “I expect that when Rebecca hits that she’s probably going to win a lot of meets. … She is capable of perfection.”

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