Humanities Information

Carly Patterson: What Makes A Champion?

If you have been following gymnastics for any length oftime, odds are you have heard of a particular gymnast bythe name of Carly Patterson. You probably also know thatshe is one of the youngest female Olympic gymnasts ever -and that she has stunned the world of late with herastounding abilities. In 2004, she became the firstall-around Olympic champion for the United States in morethan two decades, and was also the first to win for the USin the past two games, an amazing feat indeed, consideringthese past Olympic games were fully attended! The lastfemale all-around gymnastics champion for the United Stateswon in 1984, when the Soviet Union had boycotted theOlympics entirely.

Carly was born on February the fourth, 1988, in Baton Rouge,Louisiana, to a pair of loving parents - her mother,Natalie, and her father, Ricky. She is the first of a pairof girls (her younger sister is Jordan). Currently, shelives with her mother, her sister, and her pets in Allen,Texas. A straight-A student, she is almost a normalteenager when it comes to taste in music, boys, andshopping. However, one thing sets her apart from the restof the crowd, even beyond her academics: she spends morethan thirty hours a week training in her Texas academy. Ofcourse, she could not have gotten to where she is currentlywithout help. This logically leads to the question -- whatmakes a champion?

Carly started early on with her gymnastics career. In 1994,she began taking classes after attending a friend'sbirthday party at Gymnastics Elite, a gym facility in BatonRouge, and meeting the head coach there. After five yearsof training, what began as a sport became a true career:she won her first state title in 1999 for Louisiana.

Then, she and her family moved to Texas, which gave her thechance to train at some of the best gymnastics gyms in theUnited States. She worked with Evgeny Marchenko and histeam at the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy in Plano,Texas, and within a year completed the Top Gym Tournamentin Belgium in second place, taking the bronze medal in thebeam event, and won the all-around gold at the AmericanTeam Cup. Thus began her rise to super-stardom in theworld of gymnastics. She took dozens of titles, nationaland international, competing across the globe. Then, ofcourse, she competed in the 2004 Olympics?and the rest, asthey say, is history.

Certainly, her coaches had a lot to do with her success.They gave her the practical experience needed for propertraining and for the creativity she displays in her favoredevents. Good gymnastics schools, dedication to her work,and certainly the allure of championships kept hermotivated, and as she won title after title, she improvedwith the help of internationally renowned teams ofgymnasts. And, too, love of the sport itself inspired byher coaches and her mentors aided her to the point whereshe is today?but to attribute all of her success to thework of these individuals would be erroneous without, ofcourse, mentioning her parents.

Her mother, Natalie, and her father, Ricky, played perhapsthe most important role in any young person's life. Theygave her encouragement; they were there when she neededthem. This goes doubly for Miss Patterson, for they alsoshowed confidence and interest in her gymnasticsendeavors--in fact, by enrolling her in Gymnastics Elite,they gave her a good running start for motivation. It waswith their help, too, that she got through some of the mostdifficult times of her career thus far. An injury to herelbow kept her out of several national and internationalchampionships; it was with her parents' support that shewas rehabilitated, and has now risen to become an Olympicstar.

You, as a parent of a gymnast, can certainly take this toheart. You don't have to be particularly well off to giveyour gymnast the confidence they need to become the best.In fact, all you have to do is encourage your child; ifthey show interest in the sport, let them participate. Ifthey do well, encourage them further.

They're already champions.

By Murray Hughes
Gymnastics Secrets Revealed"The book EVERY gymnastics parent should read"

If your child is a gymnast and you enjoyed this article, youwill definitely enjoy reading the zero cost, 5-day courseGymnastics Tips Course written especially for gymnasticsparents by a gymnastics parent.Girls Gymnastics for Parents


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