MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – With the United States gymnastics team poised to grasp the Gold medal at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, the WVU squad anxiously gathered to cheer on the Americans.
Twelve years have passed since the USA won its first, and only, team Olympic Gold medal. Expectations were high for this year’s group of five gymnasts – Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber – and the excitement surrounding the sport mounted as time ticked down to the competition on July 31.
Rising Mountaineer senior Kaylyn Millick, a native of Washington, Pa., had looked forward to watching the team final competition with her teammates. Here’s what she had to say about Team USA’s Gold-medal moment and the inspiration the Mountaineers gathered for their inaugural Big 12 Conference season. WVUsports.com: Is it exciting to watch an Olympic gymnastics meet with your team?Kaylyn Millick:
Absolutely! Gymnastics doesn’t get much attention. We live the sport every single day. It seems like the average sports fans get even more excited for gymnastics every four years.
Just the other day, all of our Twitter feeds were filled with comments about how ‘cool’ gymnastics is. We live it every single day. It’s fun to actually get others into the sport.
As gymnasts, we understand what is going on on each event, and we can make sense of the scoring system. We can relate to what we’re watching, and we really enjoy that opportunity. Do you ever find yourself watching an Olympic gymnast compete and think that you can perform her skill set in Cary Gym?
Yeah! Except, she gets a Gold medal for her performance! A lot of our friends that Tweet about the Olympians’ skills don’t understand that we, too, can compete those skills. It’s such a cool thing to say, ‘I can do that, too.’ How long had the team been looking forward to watching the meet together?
We’ve been talking about the London Olympics all summer. We enjoy watching together because we get to see how these super-talented gymnasts compete and carry themselves during competition, and I think that helps us act as better teammates, too. We’ve been really inspired by how well Team USA works together, and we’re hoping to mimic that during our upcoming season. Team USA really staked its claim to the Gold medal in the first rotation on vault. What was the atmosphere like at your viewing party?
It was crazy! We cheer like we’re in the stands. We all get cold-chills with each routine. We feel like we’re in the arena and a part of the team because we are a part of the sport. You and your teammates were very young when Team USA won its last Gold medal in 1996. What was it like to watch this team capture the Gold last night?
It was pretty surreal. I was six years-old when the USA won Gold in 1996, and I had just started gymnastics. I think there are a lot of gymnasts competing now that watched the Atlanta Games and decided then and there to begin competing and reach for the Olympics. That was a dream for all of us little girls.
Last night’s win brought back memories of being a kid. I remembered why I love this sport and why it is so rewarding. It is so tough to win that medal or finish first in any competition. Sixteen years have passed since the last Gold medal, and to watch the team win was really cool and rewarding. Do you expect this year’s success to have the same effect on today’s young gymnasts?
Absolutely. Like I said, the Olympics come every four years, and sometimes it’s easy for others to forget about the sport. It can be tough for young gymnasts – you go through a lot to reach success. Sometimes, you almost want to quit, but when you’re able to see Team USA reach the pinnacle of success, it motivates you. You’re kind of floored when you see the team at the top of the podium, receiving the Gold medal and saluting the flag as the National Anthem is played. That pushes you to work harder to get to that level, too. Did you all take away any tips from last night’s meet that can help the Mountaineers on a bigger stage in the Big 12 Conference in 2013?
Definitely. You change your routines as your grow. Watching different gymnasts’ routines help you develop ideas. Team USA looked solid, so obviously what they are doing is working.
We also saw how the team rallied around Jordyn after she didn’t qualify for the individual all-around and supported her through her personal disappointment. This team pushed each other, and that’s what we always strive to do in Cary Gym. We need to maintain that throughout the 2013 season, and we’ll become a better team. Are you hoping the escalated interest in gymnastics will prompt more Mountaineer fans to come out to the WVU Coliseum this season?
Yes! We want everyone to get excited about gymnastics. We may not receive Gold medals, but our team is just as fun to watch! We can’t wait to introduce Mountaineer fans to WVU and Big 12 gymnastics this year.