The other day, I was talking to a gymnast coach at Starbucks. She was very young, about 24 years old, but she looked a lot younger. She was wearing a gymnastics outfit, the kind they use for training, and I thought she was a competitor, but she said no, that she was a coach. We talked about the London 2012 Olympic Games and she said the US Olympic team was strong, smart, and totally dedicated. She said “those girls are working their butts off,” and they deserved to win.
Indeed, I asked her about the Chinese team, and about their very young gymnasts. She told me that this year there was a strict age requirement, and they would have to be at least 16 years old to compete, and in the Beijing Olympics that may not have occurred, although no one knows for sure because China isn’t saying. Within a couple of days of this conversation with the gymnast coach, a new gal emerged on the US Olympic team only 16 years old, winning gold medals in individual events, as well as in the team event.
Her routine was completely flawless – it was spectacular to watch and absolutely incredible agility. My acquaintance at Starbucks mentioned to me that girls when they are younger are a lot more flexible, and they are able to do things that they just won’t be able to do when they get older, it is a young person’s sport. It’s not like running, swimming, and other events where the athletes might have a chance to go to two or three Olympics. The girls have perhaps one or two Olympics where they will be competitive, and after that it’s not so likely.
This means the girls have to start training very young, but in that case perhaps we need better gymnastics equipment. In the future we may need synthetic morphing gymnastics materials which allow the balance beam bar to widen as it senses that the gymnast is performing a maneuver where they are slightly off-balance. Perhaps the mats might also, upward to meet the gymnast if they have a bad take off, assuming that they might fall. If they don’t and land back on the beam, that is fine, but the mat is still there just in case.
Why is this needed? Well if the girls are going to start at very young ages, then the parents are going to want to make sure that they are safe, and we will need equipment to ensure that no bones are broken, egos shattered, or fear setting in before they are confident with themselves and their abilities. Please consider all this and think on it.
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