The Fiercest Grace: Collegiate Gymnastics

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When you first meet me, you learn pretty quickly that I am not in any way an athletic person. I couldn’t outline a football game if I tried. I’m the person who watches a basketball game and just claps when everyone else does. And I don’t get golf…like, why? With all that being said, there is one sport that has always caught my eye, one that I have more recently become fairly involved in watching. Though I have never personally competed, and though I would not consider myself an athlete in any way shape or form, I have so much respect and admiration for the fierce, graceful, bold, strong young women who compete in gymnastics.

(Note: I’m planning a later post as part of a series celebrating iconic women of our time, including the Fierce Five 2012 Olympic gymnastics team and the Final Five 2016 team. This post will focus on women’s collegiate gymnastics, in conjunction with the 2017 NCAA Gymnastics Championships taking place this weekend. Also, I am not in any way affiliated with USA Gymnastics, NCAA, or any of the below teams or gymnasts.)

In my humble opinion, gymnasts are some of the strongest, most fierce athletes out there. They are literally only using their own body strength to perform, essentially no extra equipment, no assistance. They perform incredible stunts with their own strength, push themselves to the limit to perform their routines.

But they are also extremely graceful. They move with such ease and poise, hands and arms and legs all in the right place at the right time. They know all of these movements, understand the way they must work to combine their strength and elegance. Every gymnast moves with a focused, elegant grace that only a very skilled athlete can achieve.

I can’t really get into the technique elements of gymnastics, considering I am not a judge nor an athlete myself. I share this blog with you simply as a fan of the sport. I find gymnastics to be an incredible display of poise and stamina. I admire every gymnast who puts her body through the training and competition of the sport, and still keeps up with school and other opportunities to prove herself as the strong, focused woman that she is. This is in no way to say that other athletes are not just as graceful and tough and disciplined, because they absolutely are, but I have found an interest in gymnastics, and I thoroughly admire the elegance and strength this sport has presented in its athletes.

The NCAA Gymnastics Championships are taking place this weekend in St. Louis. Oklahoma stands as the top team in the nation, followed by Louisiana State, Florida, Utah, and Michigan. Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols tops the individual all-around standings, followed by Utah’s MyKayla Skinner (Rio 2016 Olympic alternate) and Oklahoma’s Chayse Capps. There have been several incredible routines this season, including a total of 31 perfect 10 scores (including six by Maggie Nichols, making her the ninth gymnast in NCAA history to earn a “GymSlam”–a perfect 10 score on every apparatus. (Read more about her incredible season here). See below for some of the perfect 10 routines from this season.

Do you have a sport that you’ve never participated in, but which you really enjoy watching? Feel free to share your experiences with gymnastics and sports in general. I can definitely talk gymnastics with you, but I can’t make any promises on any other sports. 😉

Just a few of the Perfect 10 Routines from the 2017 season:

Ashleigh Gnat, LSU (Vault)

Christine Peng-Peng Lee, UCLA (Bars)

Maggie Nichols, Oklahoma (Beam)

MyKayla Skinner, Utah (Floor)

Best of luck to all of the teams competing at the NCAA Championships this weekend! Visit the NCAA site for information on the teams competing and how you can watch the competition.

-Chelsy

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Rankings

USA Gymnastics (Perfect 10 routines)

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