FIG Acro World Cup champ Ryan Ward retires28/07/2015
Ryan Ward (USA), who with Acrobatic Mixed Pairs partner Kiley Boynton earned World bronze in 2014 and FIG World Cup series gold this year, has retired from Acrobatic Gymnastics.
Ryan Ward and Kiley Boynton (USA) at the 2014 Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships in Levallois (FRA).
Known for their inventive holds and clean execution, Boynton and Ward became the first American Mixed Pair ever to win the FIG Acro World Cup series, which is based on performances throughout the World Cup season. The duo won the Varna and Geneva World Cups, and snagged a bronze medal at the Maia World Cup.
Ward, who balanced working for the American network provider T-Mobile while training for and competing at the 2014 Worlds, cited the lack of difficulty of training and trying to work full time in his decision to retire. Despite online popularity, adult Acrobatic gymnasts struggle to make ends meet.
Because the discipline does not have Olympic status, funding for Acrobatic gymnasts is often limited, and the temptation to accept money to be part of professional shows often cuts careers short. Boynton will continue to train, though it is unclear whether she will compete again on the international circuit.
Acro is on the rise in the U.S., partly due to the success of Boynton and Ward as well as Acro troupe AcroArmy's successful run on a recent season of America's Got Talent.
The forces are even pulling some former Acro gymnasts back into the competitive fold. Michael Rodrigues (USA), who the World title in Mixed Pairs with former partner Kristin Allen, recently returned to competition at the U.S. Championships with new partner Eirian Smith, with the goal of representing the U.S. at the 2016 Acro Worlds in Putian (CHN). Smith competed at the 2014 Worlds paired with Brian Kincher, a former Worlds competitor who had also come out of retirement for the occasion.