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Young gymnasts train to be like their favorite Olympians

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MOUNT VERNON (WSIL)---From balancing on beams, to swinging on the bars, girls of all ages are practicing to become like some of their favorite gymnasts.

"My dream is to be in the Olympics when I'm a grown up," said 9-year-old Elliana Asbery.

According to the Zone's program director Jaime Eader, the Olympics brings a renewed interest in the sport.

"We do get a lot of boosted enrollment at our gym, or any gym, during an Olympic year," said Eader.

For the girls who take the leap, they learn the training is not only physical, but also mental.

"If I'm nervous or if I don't want to do it, I'll end up falling at least twice," said Asbery.

Olympic gymnast Simone Biles announced she would not compete in the Olympics for mental health reasons, and Eader uses the same policy at her gym.

"Gymnastics is always a three steps forward, two steps back kind of a process and so we have to remember that taking a step back is always an acceptable option," Eader added.

Eader emphasizes the girls are meant to enjoy gymnastics. She supported 14 year old Aubrie Stover's decision to stop going to competitions, when Stover realized she hated the crowds and anxiety that came with competing.

"I was having a conversation with my mom and I was talking to her like, 'I don't feel, like, the love for competing anymore, and I just don't think I should do gymnastics anymore if I'm not gonna enjoy it.' And she was like, well maybe you can still do it, but not have to endure traveling everywhere and competing. So I made an agreement with her to do it for one more year and see where I'm at and see how I feel about it," Stover said.

Stover is much happier with her new arrangment, which Eader said is the point of the sport.

"Gymnastics teaches you how to set goals and how to reach them, it teaches you social skills, it is just so valuable in so many different ways, and like, above all, it's supposed to be fun," said Eader.

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Madeline Parker

Madeline Parker is a Multimedia Journalist at News 3 WSIL. Madeline joined the team in 2020 and graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale with a Bachelor’s in Electronic Journalism and a minor in Communication Studies.

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