Sports always require sacrifice, effort, and dedication. To become champions you have to give up many things, spend hours in the gym, and not give up in front of the first failures. But all this is all the more true in those sports where you have to go close to perfection. It is enough to read a few phrases about artistic gymnastics to realize this.
This specialty, in fact, gives a lot but also demands a lot. It is a sport in which even the slightest mistake can make a champion collapse in the dust, and can send years of sacrifice up in smoke. And this is because you do not compete only against opponents – with whom there is no contact, nor competition at the same time – but above all against yourself.
For those who do not know, artistic gymnastics is in fact based on various tests, which are evaluated by a jury. There is the vaulting, there is the free body, there are the parallels, the beam, the bar. The athlete performs his exercise, trying to make as few smears as possible, and then receives a score.
Precisely for this reason, it is a sport in which every moment, every moment counts. A famous American phrase says: “In [American] football there are four downs, in baseball, there are three outs, in tennis, there are two service balls. But in artistic gymnastics there is only one chance ».
The meaning is precisely this: in many sports, you have various possibilities to score a point. You can miss a penalty, sure, but you can also create three or four more actions in the next few minutes. There is always the possibility of remedying. In gymnastics, no.
This is precisely what makes this specialty special. To make it magical, but also stressful. And to require intense training, for the muscles and the nerves.
THE PHRASES ON ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS AND THEIR AUTHORS
We have tried to summarize all these particularities in the five sentences we have chosen. They come, as you will see, all from great female athletes, who have experienced successes and failures on their skin.
Apart from the first one – the extraordinary Nadia Comăneci – they are American girls because Americans think about sport a lot. But it seems to us that these sentences have universal value. Let’s find out together.
1. Fear of Challenges
The wisdom of Nadia Comăneci
When it comes to appointing a champion of artistic gymnastics, those of a certain age cannot help but think of Nadia Comăneci. The Romanian gymnast was one of the greatest athletes of the twentieth century, the first ever to achieve a “perfect 10”, that is, to obtain the maximum score in a test.
When this happened, Comăneci was only 14 years old and was making her first Olympic appearance, in Montreal in 1976. During that edition she managed to achieve another six perfect 10s, amazing the world. Her performance was on everyone’s lips for years and she captured the covers of all magazines.
The Romanian athlete’s career, however, goes beyond that Olympics. In fact, in her palmares there are five Olympic gold medals, achieved between Montreal and Moscow, as well as three silver and one bronze. You have also won two gold medals at the World Championships, nine at the Europeans, and five at the Universiade.
In short, despite having competed for a few years she was one of the strongest athletes of all time, not only in artistic gymnastics. And she knows about sacrifices, challenges, and fears. As these words of him show.
Fear doesn’t make me run away from challenges. Instead he makes me go towards it, because the only way to get rid of fear is to trample it with your feet.
2. Right and Wrong
As we said at the beginning, artistic gymnastics is a sport in which the error has a disproportionate weight. Especially when the mistake is apparently minimal because a small imperfection can really compromise the outcome of an entire race.
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Shawn Johnson, one of the greatest athletes in American history of this discipline, knows it well. A gymnast who perhaps, however, has kept less, at the Olympics, than she had promised. Born in 1992, she began competing as a senior in 2007.
Just in that year, he recorded a literally extraordinary season. You have in fact conquered the title of world champion in the free body, in the individual, and in the team competition. She also won four gold medals at the Pan American Games that same year, held in Rio de Janeiro.
Shawn Johnson’s advice
In Beijing, the following year, Johnson took gold on the beam, but in the individual, the free body, and in the team competition she did not go beyond the silver medal. She was in fact overtaken by compatriot Nastia Liukin, Romanian Sandra Izbașa, and Chinese athletes respectively.
In the following years, she obtained another gold at the Pan American Games, but in 2012 she retired from competitive activity. On the other hand, she has remained very popular in America, even for various television appearances. She won an edition of Dancing with the Stars and came second in the “All-Star” version.
He also wrote two memoir books. The first is Shawn Johnson. Stories Behind the Smile, came out in 2008, shortly after winning the Olympics. The second is Winning Balance. What I’ve Learned So Far about Love, Faith, and Living Your Dreams, is instead of 2012.
You don’t have to train until you get it right. You have to train yourself until you do it wrong.
3. When you Become a Champion
Artistic gymnastics has long been a discipline for whites or Orientals. The athletes from the countries of the Soviet bloc, the Chinese, and, sometimes, some Americans competed on the tools. But the gymnasts’ skin was always invariably clear.
THE FEMALE ATHLETES OF COLOR
Partly for social reasons, partly out of prejudice, the black athletes preferred other specialties. On the other hand, in Africa, there was no relevant gymnastic tradition, and in the United States, the gymnastic schools had that aura of sporting aristocracy that for a long time kept the representatives of minorities at a distance.
Fortunately, however, many things have changed in recent years. And much of the credit goes to Gabby Douglas, the first black gymnast to win a gold medal.
The story of Gabby Douglas
Born in 1995, Gabrielle Douglas made herself known internationally in 2012 when she participated in the London Olympics. There, in her second year in the senior category, she scored twice, winning the gold medal in both individual and team competitions, enchanting the world.
In 2016 she made an encore with another team gold medal won in Rio, while in the middle between the two Olympics she also made a name for herself in the 2015 World Championships with a couple more medals. In short, an important career, made even epic by the difficulties encountered to establish itself in the environment.
It is no coincidence that its history has become emblematic, in America and beyond. In 2012, right after the Olympics, she went as a guest on Oprah Winfrey’s show, chronicling the bullying she had suffered in previous years from white training partners.
Later that same year he elaborated on the subject in his first autobiography, Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith, which had some success in the States. The book was made into a TV movie, while in 2016 a reality show was also launched following the life of Gabby and her family.
In short, the gymnast is one of those girls who know sacrifice, disappointment, and pain. And they know that all of this can become the real engine to becoming a champion.
Hard days are the best, because that’s where you become a champion.
4. Win and Lose
So far we have presented athletes who – perhaps for a short moment – have reached the top of the world. On the other hand, for a girl who practices artistic gymnastics, Olympic gold is really the crowning of many dreams and many sacrifices. The point of arrival of a whole life, which paradoxically can already be reached at 16 or 17 years old.
However, there are also those who never reach an individual gold medal. Maybe he reaches it with the team, and maybe on an individual level, he can snatch a silver or bronze medal. But it doesn’t end up on the cover, you don’t see any films or books dedicated to it. And this despite the sacrifices (and often the talent) are the same.
Nonetheless, these eternal seconds sometimes amaze us with the wisdom of their sentences and statements. It is as if remaining a little on the sidelines, away from the spotlight, made them wiser, and better able to evaluate and judge reality.
Kyla Ross’s motto
This is the case, it seems to us, also of Kyla Ross, an important American gymnast. In her palmares there is the team gold medal in London 2012, but also the title of the world champion 2014, always in teams. On an individual level, she has won three silver medals at the world championships and various national titles.
Born in 1996, at just over twenty she still has a career to tell her grandchildren and that 99% of world athletes can only envy.
Nonetheless, in 1996 he decided to leave the high-level competitions to return to studying. She enrolled in college  and began competing in university gymnastic competitions. Her competitions are theoretically less demanding, even if she also found herself up against another Olympian like Madison Kocian.
Among other things, in these races in recent months, he has achieved a series of important 10 perfect, both at the beam and at the asymmetrical parallels. This ability to reach great goals even when the peak of her career seems to be behind her makes her a strong and determined athlete. As the sentence that you can read below also demonstrates.
Train like you’ve never won. Perform like you’ve never lost.
5. Sport is Also Fun
The sentence of Simone Biles
Introducing Gabby Douglas we said that, since her appearance on the scene, something in the world of artistic gymnastics has started to change. The most evident thing is that various black athletes have reached the top of the discipline. Among these, the most famous is Simone Biles.
Born in 1997, this girl has even gone beyond the already remarkable achievements of Douglas. Suffice it to say that she currently holds the record for the gymnast with the most career medals, combining those won at the Olympics and World Championships.
She made her debut in a high-level competition in 2013. And that year she quickly showed that the United States had a new, fierce champion on the team. In fact, Biles won two individual gold medals at the Antwerp World Championships, replicating the following year in China with another three individual golds and won team gold.
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In 2015 in Glasgow he then slipped in a sense the hat-trick, winning four more gold medals and dominating the event.
The Rio Olympics
These successes in the years leading up to the Olympics are generally not a great sign. Getting to favorites in the most important competition, in fact, puts a lot of pressure on athletes. And, for those who believe it, it also brings bad luck.
At the Rio Olympics, however, Biles proved she was perfectly capable of withstanding stress. And she has won four other gold medals: in the individual, the vaulting, the free body, and in the team competition. In the beam, however, she arrived “only” a bronze medal.
After these great successes, in 2017 the athlete decided to take a year off from the activity. Faithful to his motto – which you can read below – he has in fact decided to rest and find motivation. By participating in the meantime, among other things, in an edition of Dancing with the stars, which finished in fourth place.
Remember to have fun. When I smile and enjoy myself, I do my best.
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