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Courtesy photo

Brookline's Nicholas Merryman holds a straddle-L on the still rings during the 2011 Future Stars National Championships at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Sunday, January 22, 2012

Brookline’s Merryman holds spot on US development team

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Subfreezing temperatures and blowing snow dusted the walkways of the U.S. Olympic Training Center where Brookline gymnast Nicholas Merryman returned to his native state to place fifth in the U.S. in a group of young athletes who qualified to attend the 2011 Future Stars National Championships to compete in a unique 9-event evaluation meet for top U.S. boys gymnasts.

As a prelude to the upcoming gymnastics competition season, Merryman’s solid execution in a group of 31 boys qualified him to be named to the 2011-12 U.S. Junior National Development Team for the third consecutive year. As the top finisher for the New England region, which sent four boys to the National meet in his age division, he placed first in the nation on parallel bars and still rings strength, third on pommel horse and flexibility and fourth on still rings.

For a second year in a row, the Granite Stater also earned a coveted invitation to a week-long event at the USOTC for a select group of Future Stars gymnasts to further enhance their skills at an intensive training camp staffed by USA Gymnastics National Team coaches.

The Future Stars Program was designed by USA Gymnastics (USAG) to identify promising young athletes and assist with their further education and development into an elite class who will comprise the National Men’s Team representing the U.S. at international competitions and the Olympics.

Future Stars consists of six age groups from 8 to 13, who perform selected skills and compulsory routines on the six traditional men’s events plus strength, trampoline and flexibility evaluations. The 8-9 age division participates up to the Regional level while the 10-13 division can qualify for Nationals.

Beyond the competitive segment at the National Championships, the weekend event in December included tours of the USOTC facilities, educational workshops for coaches and parents, and a day-long practice to hone skills under the guidance of the USAG National Team coaches at the Center.

As a second-year Level 9 gymnast for the 2011-12 season, Merryman practices over 24 hours each week at Gymnastics Village in Amherst under the guidance of coach Igor Kniazev.

An eighth-grade honor student at Hollis Brookline, he was the top New England Level 6 and Level 7 gymnast for 2009 and 2010, respectively. As a first-year Level 9 in 2011, he placed third in region and competed at the U.S. Nationals.