Lexington gymnast opens 2019 Special Olympic World Games with gymnastics prelims

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ABU DHABI (WTVQ)- The Opening Ceremonies aren’t until tomorrow, but many of the 7,000 athletes competing at the 2019 World Summer Games opened their competitions today during divisioning and preliminary events.

Lexington artistic gymnast Tonya Cornett was among those in action this afternoon in Abu Dhabi.

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Cornett participated in preliminaries at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center. Cornett, who at 48 is the oldest gymnast in the competition, had an outstanding day. She posted a high score of 18.75 in the vault, which was also her best event at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. Cornett added a 17.60 in the uneven bars, 17.20 on the balance beam and 17.05 on the floor. Her scores were among the highest in her preliminary group.

Cornett’s scores will be used by Games organizers to place her in a division for competition. Special Olympics divisions athletes by age and demonstrated ability level. She is scheduled to begin medal competition on Friday, March 15, with her events finishing on Saturday, March 16. You can follow her results on her athlete page (https://www.abudhabi2019.org/athlete/tonya-cornett-704188) on the official World Games Web site.

Cornett is coming off a 2018 USA Games performance that saw her claim four gold medals, including the all-around, and one silver. This is her second trip to the Special Olympics World Games. She competed in rhythmic gymnastics at the 2003 Games in Dublin, Ireland.



Kentucky has two athletes competing at the World Summer Games, both of who are gymnasts. Lee Dockins of Russellville will compete in rhythmic gymnastics, which will take place later in the Games.

The Games officially open tomorrow with the Opening Ceremony. The Opening Ceremonies will include the parade of athletes, lighting of the Special Olympics flame and performances by an international list of all-stars including Avril Lavigne and Luis Fonsi. You can watch the ceremony live beginning at 11 am on ESPNNews.

The 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games will be held March 14-21, 2019, in Abu Dhabi. It will be the first time the World Games have been held in the Middle East. The Games are expected to bring together more than 7,000 athletes from 170 countries to compete. This will be the fourth time that the World Summer Games have been held outside the United States. The others were in 2003 in Dublin, Ireland; 2007 in Shanghai, China and 2011 in Athens, Greece.