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Lord of the Still Rings



Lord of the Still Rings
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 4
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   3.9

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    dismount, gold-medal, gymnastic, member-along, opposite-sides, Petru, pike, pointed, pommel, red-haired, springboard, status, straighten, stunts, torso, warm-up
     content words:    Blaine Bodkin, Still Rings, Miss Ava, Nikolai Andrianov, Soviet Union, World Championship, Bart Conner, Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy, Mitch Gaylord, United States


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Lord of the Still Rings
By Brenda B. Covert
  

1     Blaine Bodkin warmed up for class. First, he jogged around the floor mat with the other barefoot boys and girls, and then he did some stretching exercises. That part of gymnastics [jim-NASS-tix] class was boring, but it had to be done before the fun stuff could begin. Blaine was wearing the black "Lord of the Still Rings" workout tee and shorts that his mother had given him. His coach, Mr. Petru, had smiled at the pun. He hoped that Mr. Petru would take the hint and let him workout on the still rings.
 
2     As usual, Miss Ava, the girls' coach, led the warm-up exercises. She told the group to stretch into the splits. That was easy for Blaine.
 
3     "How did you learn how to do that?" Ethan, the new kid, whispered. He was sitting on the floor with his legs at a right angle, unable to get them into the opposite-sides position.
 
4     "I think I have loose joints," Blaine whispered back. "I've been able to do the splits all my life!"
 
5     "Lucky!" Ethan grimaced, unable to spread his legs any farther. If he had looked around the room, he would have seen plenty of other gymnasts who had not yet mastered the splits.
 
6     Finally, warm-up time was over. The girls followed Miss Ava to the balance beam area. The boys followed Mr. Petru to the springboard and stacked mat area. They were going to practice their flips by running and leaping onto the springboard, flying up into the air, and flipping to land on their bottoms on the tall stack of mats. Blaine could do that easily. He could also land on his feet when they used the vault, but not when they had to use the mats. Mr. Petru asked him to show the new boys how to do it.
 
7     After Blaine did the flip and ran back to the line, Ethan asked, "How do you know what Mr. Petru is saying? I can hardly understand him!"
 
8     "The longer you come to class, the easier it is to understand him," Blaine said. He explained that Mr. Petru was from Romania. He had been trained as a gymnast there, but he came to America to become a coach.
 
9     After all the boys had taken six turns on the springboard and had done several stunts, they took a water break. Then they worked on cartwheels. That was followed by time on the parallel bars. The boys had to hold themselves up between the bars with stiff arms. Then they practiced the hand walk, moving forward on the bars by shifting from side to side and moving their hands. After that, they practiced the back foot lean rest. That was an easy stunt. All a boy had to do was swing his legs up and set his heels on the bars, and then straighten out his body with his arms still stiffly holding the bars under him. That was fun, but it made his arms very tired.
 
10     Blaine had lost all hope of working on the rings when Mr. Petru flashed him a smile. The final workout of the day would be on the rings!
 
11     Because Ethan and several other boys were new to class, Mr. Petru asked Blaine to perform on the rings for them. His chest swelled as he approached the two metal rings that hung from straps attached to the ceiling. As he stood under them, Mr. Petru grasped his waist and hoisted him up so that Blaine could reach the rings.
 
12     Dangling in the air, Blaine used his strong arms to pull himself up into the straight arm support. He ended with his arms down at his sides, holding the rings still. Then he went into his first stunt. It was called the Cross. His body stayed straight with his toes pointed down. His arms stretched out from each side. They only shook a little. It was a hard stunt to hold! He went from the cross to the L Cross. To do that, he lifted both legs up at a 90-degree angle from his torso. His ankles stayed together.
 
13     Whew! Blaine relaxed his arms, doing a straight arm hang from the rings to rest for a moment. Next, he moved into a tuck hang. He lifted his knees to his chest; his toes still pointed toward the floor. Then, he went into a pike hang. He lifted his feet until they touched the rings in his grip. He let his body fall back into the hanging position. Now he was ready to do his last two stunts.

Paragraphs 14 to 32:
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