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2017-01-27 digital edition

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January 27, 2017  RSS feed
World News

Text: T T T

Forecast for Odessa gymnast: sunny days, chance of medal in Israel

Jewish Press report

Moorea Linker competing on the balance beam Moorea Linker competing on the balance beam Moorea Linker, 14, of Odessa, recently returned from gymnastics competition in Oklahoma City where she qualified for the 20th Maccabiah Games in Israel from July 4-18.

“It is an amazing opportunity and it is really cool to think that I get to represent Team USA in gymnastics in Israel,” Moorea said

About 20 elite gymnasts from throughout the country competed in the Oklahoma City qualifier competition and six, including Moorea, were chosen, said Moorea’s father Josh Linker, a meteorologist for BayNews 9.

“I am so proud of her,” said her mom, Brooke Linker.

The Maccabiah Games are the third largest international sports competition in the world behind the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. The Maccabiah Games aren’t just a sports competition. They offer participants an experience of culture, education, religion, and building camaraderie with other Jewish athletes from around the world. The Games take place every four years in Israel.

Moorea has been a competitive gymnast, training at La- Fleur’s Gymnastics on Anderson Road in Tampa, since she was 6. She trains about 25 hours a week and hopes in the future to earn a college scholarship as a gymnast, her dad said. Now a level-10 gymnast, this eighth grader is looking forward to her next competitive season. Last year she was a qualifier for Junior Olympic Nationals, held in Fort Worth, TX. This season she has her eyes set on returning to that qualifier, but more importantly to spending three weeks in Israel as a member of the junior division Team USA for the Maccabiah Games.

The experience in Israel starts with Israel.Connect, where every athlete participates in the six-day program prior to the opening of the World Maccabiah Games. During this time, the athletes travel to cultural and historic sites to experience firsthand their own connection with Israel and Judaism.

The athletes also have the opportunity to participate in a unique b’nai mitzvah ceremony, either for the first time or to reaffirm their commitment to Judaism. Moorea celebrated her bat mitzvah in the Dominican Republic in 2015 and has not yet decided if the will participate in the ceremony is Israel, Josh Linker said.

Following their tour, the next two weeks will be spent in the athlete›s village, just like the Olympic Games. There they will get to meet and visit with other Jewish athletes from around the world and tour Israel together as part of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Moorea competes in all four gymnastic events – the vault, floor routine, balance beam and uneven bars – and her favorite one has changed from time to time, her dad said, adding that at the Maccabiah Games he does not know if there will be an “all-around” competition or just individual competition for each event.

While Maccabiah participants don›t pay directly for such expenses as airfare, lodging and food, there is an $8,000 per athlete shared commitment to offset costs for all the athletes. The $8,000 can be raised through fundraising, out-of-pocket or a combination of the two.

A GoFundMe page has been established to help meet Moorea›s requirement. To date she has raised $1,679 with a goal of raising $8,018. The link to the Go- FundMe page is The extra $18 of the $8,018 goal was “for chai,” Linker said.

In the last two summer Olympic Games, Aly Raisman, a Jewish gymnast from Massachusetts, won gold at the 2012 and 2016 games and lit the flame for the Maccabiah Games in 2013. She, as well as Laurie Hernandez and Simone Biles are Moorea’s favorite gymnasts, her father said.

Linker said he is hopeful that he, his wife, Moorea’s siblings and grandmother will be able to make it to the Maccabiah Games this summer to root on Moorea and the rest of the gymnastics team.

To see what Moorea has been working on for this upcoming season, visit her You Tube Page at

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