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1400 gymnasts including first male competitors expected for GMS’ “Flip for the Fight” Feb. 20-22

GMS Gymnastics will host Flip for the Fight this weekend from Friday, Feb. 20 at 2 p.m. through Sunday, Feb. 22 at 9 p.m. at the NOVA Fieldhouse located at 14810 Murdock Street in Chantilly. This is the sixth annual event since its inception 2009.

It was started by Ashley Holzworth, assistant competitive director of GMS and dedicated to Azin Youssefi-Manafi, competitive director of GMS, when she was fighting her battle with breast cancer.

Since then Youssefi-Manafi says the competition has grown from approximately 300 athletes to about 1400 who will attend and compete at this year’s competition.

The first year, the meet was hosted at the GMS facility; the third year it moved to Battlefield High School and to the field house for the fourth year. Next year, they are looking to an even bigger venue, perhaps a convention center, in order to host athletes. Youssefi-Manafi said she had to turn away 400 people this year who wanted to attend, but she could not host them all at the current venue.

Athletes will come to the meet from all over including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, and many points in Virginia.
Youssefi-Manafi says that this meet is special because proceeds will be given to Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation. Representatives come to the meet and talk about the foundation.

Youssefi-Manafi says that last year they donated $15,000 and this year, they hope to do the same. Over the years, they have selected several different organizations to donate to that supported the cause. Their ultimate goal is to eventually raise $25,000.

The meet also brings together athletes in another way. Youssefi-Manafi says that their slogan is to put away team colors and unite. In order to do this, they provide uniforms for all athletes instead of teams wearing their own uniforms and their own colors.

Female athletes will receive a pink and grey leotard with the breast cancer ribbon emblazoned in pink rhinestones. Coaches receive t-shirts with their team name on the back. Male athletes will receive a black uniform with the pink breast cancer ribbon on it.

This is the first year the event is hosting male athletes and approximately 200 male competitors are expected this year.

Athletes range in age from 5 to 18 years old, though Youssefi-Manafi admits that she really enjoys the younger competitors. The little girls come in with sparkles in their hair and they are given stickers, a breast cancer ribbon and glittery pink stars that they put on both of their cheeks.

Youssefi-Manafi excitedly discusses the event describing the whole venue as decorated in pink and black.  She adds that there also is an honor wall where athletes and attendees can add names of women they know who are fighting breast cancer, survivors of breast cancer, or the names of those who have lost to the disease.

The event is large and quite an undertaking.  GMS rents gymnastics equipment that is delivered in three tractor trailers. The George Mason University ROTC helps unload and put together the equipment and at the end, helps with take down.

Youssefi-Manafi says there are many, many volunteers who help with the event with many things including goody bags that are given to all of the athletes.

Youssefi-Manafi boasts that the meet is one of the largest in Virginia and this year it may be the largest.
GMS has 145 gymnasts who will compete at the meet; many teams bring more than 150 athletes.

During the event, score are posted live on the GMS website.

All are invited to come and support the event. Entry fees are $10 for those 12 and up and $5 for under 12, military (active or inactive) and seniors. Many people come to the event including family members of athletes, former gymnasts and “people just off the street.”

The athletes at GMS are busy. Youssefi-Manafi just attended a showcase in North Carolina and in recent weeks has been to Manhattan and Landover, MD. GMS will be hosting the Virginia State Championship for Level 4 male gymnasts on March 8.

For more information on GMS, see GMS G.ymnastics is located at 7226 Newmarket Court in Manassas.  For more information on Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation, see .

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