Olympic Games inspire young, local gymnasts

Published: Aug. 16, 2016 at 4:49 PM MDT
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Every four years, the Olympics set the bar high for many young gymnasts.

Alan Ponto, Just Jymnastics owner, says, "It's such a hard and demanding activity. It requires so much time and dedication."

Keeping kids on their toes and having fun in their gymnastics class... with their very own Olympics, where everyone wins gold.

Ponto says, "Sometimes that motivates our own kids in the gym when they see and get the story behind each kid, like Simone Biles, and some of the kids the Olympics spotlights."

For Emily Sabers, it's Aly Raisman that inspires her.

Emily has been tumbling since she was a tiny 2-year-old.

Emily Sabers, a gymnast, says, "When I was little I could only do a round-off back handspring. Now I can do a round-off back handspring layout."

Now at age 9, her talent and her drive is anything but little.

Sabers says, "When you learn stuff, it's cool that you can make it to high beam. When you do it on the high beam, it's really cool."

But the Olympics provide more than motivation for students. For this gym, it piques new interest from the community.

Ponto says, "We're always excited when the Olympic year rolls around because enrollment does tend to go up. Especially the last few Olympics, because the United States has done so well."

The reason? Ponto says it's because gymnastics provides a balance of physical activity and life skills for kids.

Ponto says, "It's so much more than flips and twists and cartwheels or forward rolls. The work ethic the kids develop, learning how to work with others, being a good teammate."

Nationally, gymnastics sees a 20 percent spike in enrollment and that carries over here in Rapid City.

Just Jymnastics says their fall classes are filling up quick with several determined gymnasts, like Emily.

Sabers says, "I want to go to the Olympics."

And if she keeps practicing, she very well can.

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