The First Meet This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   Even though the beam is four feet high and four inches wide, it has always been my favorite event. I don't really know why, it's just the thrill of it. I've always loved to watch gymnastics, but of the beam is my favorite event. When I was seven years old, I moved up from the Tumble Bugs, which was for younger children, to the Elite Gym Team for those over eight. I was so excited.

November of 1987 was my first meet. I was so nervous that I could barely walk. I had made it through Bars, Vault, and Floor without a flaw. Now came the beam. I was the last competitor at the meet and very nervous. As I stepped up to the board to mount the beam, my coach said "Try to stay calm. Smile, but most of all, don't fall off." The day before I had stuck a number of beam routines with ease, and that's all I wanted to do now.

The judge raised her arm and signaled for me to go. My heart was pounding so hard I thought it was going to pop out of my chest. Though the routine was a minute and thirty seconds, it felt like an eternity.

As soon as I dismounted and looked over at the expression on my coach's face, all my fears disappeared. When they flashed the score I was astonished. A score of a 8.0 had brought me from an overall third place to first. Ever since, each time I compete on the beam, I remember the words of my coach on that fateful day and all the nervousness is carried away. l

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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