After a 12-hour flight, 32 uniformed members of the Bouncing Bulldogs jump rope team got their first glimpse of Tokyo. For months, the Bulldogs had been preparing for this opportunity to compete against some of the world’s best double dutch jumpers from Belgium, China, France, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and the U.S.
There was no time to lament the 14-hour time difference or fully process the cultural shock that came with traveling. The countdown to competition was the main concern because in less than 24 hours, the Bulldogs would compete in the 2018 Double Dutch Contest World, attended by 217 teams and 1,085 individuals.
Since the Bulldogs did not attend the Double Dutch Contest USA in Hawaii in September 2017, each of the four Bulldog groups had to perform in order to advance to the final day of competition on March 11 at Maihama Amphitheater. Groups performed routines they had prepared and competed in a timed event.
One of the two Bulldog groups who advanced to the final round made history by being the first all-female all-American group to compete at the event. The other Bulldog group to advance won first place in the 12-and-under division.
“This is a huge deal for our program, because as only 12-year-olds, we were able to compete on the biggest stage in double dutch history,” group member Ava Winslow said. “The next generation of younger kids on our team will now have more opportunities to go to other countries with us and compete on the same level as everyone else.”
Addie Gilner, another member of the winning 12-and-under group, attributed their success to the mentorship of their coaching staff and older team members.
“I feel like all of our hard work definitely paid off, and it was good to have the older kids there with us at competition who helped us during training,” Gilner said.
After celebrating their success at the competition, the Bulldogs stayed in Tokyo to learn double dutch techniques at a three-day camp. The camp celebrated double dutch as an enjoyable activity and created a positive learning environment. The Bulldogs focused on learning dance steps that they can incorporate into their future performance routines.
This unique opportunity to learn from double dutch is connected to the central mission of getting competitive jump rope to the Olympics. Since the 2020 Summer Olympics will be held in Tokyo, the Bulldogs recognized that the location of the event was key.