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Gymnastics Is....

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I fly so fast, the cool air on my face is exhilarating. The only noise I hear is the comforting sound of my feet hitting the runway. My adrenaline is building; I’m swinging my arms like mad… BAM! The springboard catapults me through the air. My hands are attracted to the vault, like metal to a magnet. The leather is smooth on my fingertips. Then, as quickly as I found the table, they are pushed off, again sending me through the air. After a moment of flying, my feet find the mat. Both feet land, and I pause for a moment. Silence. I smile, throwing my hands up in the air to finish.
Gymnastics is speed

I clap the chalk on my grips. The judge raises her hands in salute. I raise my hands in answer. The routine begins. I jump and grab the low bar, pushing and pulling on it, forcing me up and around the bar. My muscles straining to get me around. Some chalk particles fall into my face like tiny snowflakes, but I don’t notice. I catch a glimpse of my coach, her eyes glued on me. I’m swinging and flying, hardly seeing a thing as the world whizzes around and around. After some moments of swinging around the bar, I jump to the high bar. The mat is well over five feet below me now. With one last swing, I let go of the bar, flipping backwards. Finally, my feet hit the mat. I throw my hand up in the air to find my teammates clapping. The sound of the clapping fills my ears and drowns out all other noise.
Gymnastics is strength.

My feet carry me onto the floor, as they’ve done so many times before. My music starts. It’s inspirational, making me feel like I can fly. With my body tumbling through the air, I pretty much am flying. In between the tumbling I’m dancing, spinning myself around the floor. I’m telling a story, only using movement. My arms and legs are the letters, forming words, with my dance. Then, finally they form a story for everyone to read. The climax of the story approaches, the music speeds up, my movements become more vigorous. Eventually, the music slows, coming to a close. I throw my arms, in the final position, the final word. At the end, I hear my heart pounding, but not in fear, in satisfaction.
Gymnastics is grace.

For most spectators, beam in women’s gymnastics is most nerve-wracking to watch. It is also nerve-wracking for the gymnast. On beam, it is the worst. Four feet off the ground, it’s just you and the beam. Not the comforting presence of the floor all around you, just a slender strip of leather that your feet barely fit on top of. My strategy is to attack the beam, telling yourself you aren’t afraid of it, even if you are. I mount the beam. Atop the beam, it is a very different world. With a deep breath, I throw my hands behind me, trusting nothing but my sense of balance to keep me on the beam. My hands find and grip the leather. Finally, after some minutes of spinning and flipping, the mat beckons me back to earth, and I dismount the beam, finally feeling solid ground.
Gymnastics is balance.

Some people would say, “What a ridiculous sport! Who’d want to throw themselves over a beam, on a floor, and around bars only an inch in diameter?” But, when you are a gymnast, winning awards, trophies and medals, or participating in a competition, are not the only reasons for participating in the sport. Not in the very least. There are many other reasons.

Once you understand gymnastics, there is nothing like the indescribable thrill of flipping three feet over a four inch beam. You feel incredible when you are in weightlessness as you tumble. You are enthralled by the way the world spins and you know nothing except that you must swing hard around the bars. The wind on your face when you’re speeding down the runway cannot compare to any other sport.
Until you’ve visited the world of gymnastics, it will seem like a far off planet. You cannot understand a world you’ve never been to. But, for a gymnast, gymnastics is a world we call home. A world where you know you have a second family, home, and life. In this world, fear in nonexistent. Gymnastics is a world where dreams come true.
Gymnastics is me.





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This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

. said...
Sept. 7, 2009 at 8:28 am
Wow! That was amazing. I do gymnastics and I feel exactly the same way
 
Rockerray101 said...
Jul. 9, 2009 at 2:55 pm
Great.great.write more.
 
Raymond W. said...
Jun. 1, 2009 at 11:46 pm
Great Job BFF! that was really good. I couldn't have put it better. From the beginning I was sucked into it. I could visualize everything in my mind. Unfortunately I agree with DD. The last two paragrah broke the spell I was transfixed in. But good job overall!
 
redrockguy said...
Apr. 28, 2009 at 3:47 am
Absolutely beautifully written. I used to be a high performance athlete, but could have never expressed my feelings about the sports in which I participated with such eloquence, clarity, and awareness. Bravo!!
 
DD said...
Apr. 25, 2009 at 3:21 am
I loved it. It made my eyes moist. The descriptions were vivid and engaging. However, the last two paragaphs seemed to separate me from her experience that I had become engaged in.
 
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