On Sunday, March 11, Mint Hill’s Olympic-hopeful gymnast Landon Ryder Shields competed in the North Carolina State Championship in Hickory, NC.
Landon put forth an impressive performance in Hickory, where he earned the title of “All Around State Champion.” Landon finished first and brought home the State Champion title in three individual events: rings, floor and parallel bars. “My favorite event is floor,” says Landon, adding, “and the high bar, and parallel bars and rings.” The only event Landon doesn’t enjoy quite as much is the pommel horse. “You have to do a certain amount of circles,” says Landon. “I always wish you could do as many circles as you want!” He placed second on the pommel horse and placed second against the entire Division, which includes all age groups.
Landon was further honored with an All-American Award, which recognizes students who maintain a GPA of 3.5 or higher. The All-American Award was particularly meaningful to Landon, who takes pride in his grades. “It was important to me because I got my grades 3.5 and up,” says Landon, “and there’s not that many people on the podium that got that.”
Landon’s performance at the State Championship earned him an invitation to the Regional Competition in Chattanooga, TN. Landon is one of only 24 gymnasts who compete at his level in North Carolina chosen for the exclusive competition. On April 26, Landon will compete against the “best of the best” from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. At Regionals, Landon will represent himself, his team and the State of North Carolina as a Junior Olympic Athlete.
As the second finisher overall in his Division, Landon also earned one of only eight spots for gymnasts ages 6-8 in the NC State Elite Program. As part of this program, Landon will attend four different camps where he will train with top coaches and athletes. There is no national competition for a Level 4 gymnast like Landon, so his goal right now is to place as highly as he can at regionals and take advantage of the training he’ll receive at Elite Program camps. He hopes to be promoted to level 5 after the Regional competition.
“We are very proud parents and so incredibly thankful of the support of his family, friends, and community to help Landon reach his goals and dreams,” says mom Tina Guard.