Our Gymnasts in Washington Jewish Week

9/15/2010 8:59:00 PM

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Local Rhythmic Gymnasts Score on Big Stage
by Jeff Seidel
Sports Correspondent

Rhythmic gymnastics is an Olympic sport that is not as well known as regular gymnastics. But, there’s something about the sport and the Washington area that seems to mix nicely.

Several young Jewish girls from this area train at Capital Rhythmic, including Julie Zetlin, a 20-year-old from Bethesda who recently captured the U.S. National Championships and will be headed to Moscow soon to train there.

Zetlin is going to represent the United States at the upcoming World Championships there. The U.S. Gymnastics Federation just named her Athlete and Sportsman of the Year.

But Zetlin isn’t the only local person who’s getting high marks in this sport. Carly Johnson (Dickerson, Md.), Masha Khemelniker (Olney), Iana Costin (Rockville) and Sophia Ameti (Germantown) all are among the high levels of the sport. They also work with Baltimorean Mia Sparaga.

Nearly the entire group of advanced athletes from this gym is Jewish — and successful.

Johnson competed in her first U.S. Nationals this summer and was a member of the American junior National silver-medal group last year.

Khemelniker is on the U.S. Future Stars squad and has trained in Russia. She’s ranked in the top 30 in the nation.

Costin was named to the U.S. Future Stars squad recently. She’s a former Moldovan champion, and since her family is Orthodox, she doesn’t train on Shabbat.

Ameti has had similar success. Her father is Israeli, and she’s a member of the U.S. junior National silver medal group.