When we see famous gymnasts on television, we see the finished product, the polished and accomplished person up on a stage under the bright lights. These individuals and their achievements are the result of hard work and training behind the scenes that we don’t get to see. And every single gymnast who has risen to the ultimate level in gymnastics and earned a spot to compete in the Olympics, has a unique story about how they got to that point. The beauty of hearing the stories behind influential female and male gymnasts is that we can see they are human beings who have had successes and setbacks just like the rest of us. This relatability can provide gymnastics inspiration for kids, just like the inspiring stories of the following gymnasts.
Nadia Comaneci has been a household name since she competed in the 1976 Olympics and became the first woman ever to score a perfect 10. The scoreboard at the time wasn’t even able to display a 10 (since it had never happened before), but Nadia still pulled off the feat seven times – ultimately winning three gold medals during the games. But her story starts long before this momentous Olympics.
In fact, Nadia discovered her passion for gymnastics at an early age and was picked out of the crowd by a gymnastics coach at the age of six. She committed to the sport and worked tirelessly to grow and improve, and she made incredible strides. Throughout her journey, however, Nadia struggled with an eating disorder and had to fight through it to get her body back to a point of health and strength. She got past this debilitating hurdle and ended up on top of the world in terms of gymnastics accomplishments. Even years later, she’s still regarded as an icon in the gymnastics world. About her success, Nadia says that “the more experienced I get, I treasure and I honor what I’ve done much more. It becomes much more important, and I appreciate it because I understand from a different view what it takes to do that.”
Gabby Douglas had the glow of the world’s spotlight cast on her and stole many hearts when she debuted as a U.S. Olympic athlete in 2012. She became even more of a symbol of hard work and devotion, when she earned a team gold medal and became the first African American to win the Olympic gold medal, in an individual all-around event. Her impressive winning streak continued at the 2016 Olympic games when she won numerous team gold medals in the Olympic games. But the path to Gabby’s success started very young and was lined with many hardships.
It could be said that Gabby’s gymnastics career began at the age of three when she completed her first successful straight cartwheel. Just one year later, Gabby learned how to do a one-handed cartwheel by herself, and from there her interest was sparked. She began formal lessons and was a state champion by the age of eight. But throughout her childhood, Gabby struggled with homelessness, blood disease and an absent father. She learned to lean on her faith, draw strength from her mother and work hard in order to get past these personal difficulties. Now, Gabby inspires others by saying: “Know that no matter how much money you have, no matter what the color of your skin is, that you still can push 100 percent…don’t ever give up.”
Simone Biles first became drawn to gymnastics when she was on a field trip with her day care class to a gymnastics facility. Simone imitated the other gymnasts while she was there, and the coach noticed and asked if she would join his class – and the rest is history.
Today, Simone is widely known as the superstar of gymnastics, hailed as the most decorated Olympic gymnast of all time. She has won a total of 19 World Championships and Olympic medals, and was the first African American woman to win the gold all-around World Championship. She was also a member of “The Final Five” at the 2016 Summer Olympics, where she dominated the competition. Simone says that gymnastics helped her deal with ADHD in her early years, giving her an outlet that was like nothing else. Through dedication, day in and day out, Simone became a true champion.
These are just a few of the inspirational stories about successful gymnasts who started finding their passions at an early age. If you’re looking to offer gymnastics inspiration for kids, enroll them in classes to see if their passion is sparked. No matter where a child begins, there is always time to grow and succeed – and build their own inspirational story along the way. Don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about how gymnastics can play a large role in the development of your child’s life!