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Local Youth Circus Coach, Wheel Gymnast Currently in 7th Place at World Championships

More than 120 athletes from 15 countries around the world are competing at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati for the 12th Biennial Wheel Gymnastics World Championships this week.

The event started on Monday and will run through the evening of Saturday, June 25. During that time, athletes compete in a series of disciplines displayed in a large apparatus called a Rhönrad or a Gym/German wheel. Lesser known in the states, the Gym wheel is a gymnastic sport with a rich history in Europe, primarily in Germany, where the sport originated and was presented in the opening ceremony of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

Team USA Gym wheelers Tony Nelson of Cincinnati and Jackson Masada and Prado Keme of Chicago all gave impressive routines on Wednesday, securing them spots in the final rounds of the competition. Masada competed in both the 2013 World Championships in Chicago, and the 2015 Championships in Lignano, Italy. Currently, he’s standing in 5th place overall for the 2016 competition, with scores of 9.25 and 7.10 in the straight-line and spiral disciplines, respectively.

Keme took home the bronze medal from Italy in 2015 for his routine in straight-line, and is currently ranked 8th.

Nelson, a Cincinnati native and youth circus coach, posted a 8.50 in the vault discipline, currently placing him 7th in the world.

“I always perform better in competition than in practice," said Nelson. "In competition, you only have one chance to show your best work so I’m gonna go [into finals] 100% with no regrets.”

Team USA is expected to leave the World Championships with the best competition results they have ever had.

The remainder of the week holds final competitions for both Gym and Cyr wheel. Spectator tickets are still available and range from $10 and $15 for individual events to $50 for an All Event Pass. Tickets can be purchased at

The event is also being live streamed to over 15 different nations.

Circus Mojo in Ludlow is the local host for the 2016 Wheel World Championships. In conjunction with the USA Wheel Gymnastics Federation, Circus Mojo, CirquesExperience WHEEL JAM, the Social Circus Foundation, GymRoots and American Sokol are hosting Turnfest American Style, a series of specialized workshops aimed to improve the quality of performance and execution in wheel and other cirque-related gymnastics. The workshops take place in between competitions at Mount St. Joseph University. For more information, visit

- Staff report/Photo: Tony Nelson (provided)