My obsession with Olympic womens’ gymnastics started when I was 7 years old.
I remember watching the Barcelona Olympics and loving “Amigos para siempre” — the hugely stirring theme song that played every ten minutes to signify the start of a commercial break. I remember my sister and I pretending to be Pavarotti and Carrreras, and belting out “Amigos para siempre” while making bold opera singer gestures in the middle of our lounge room. I remember believing with all my handstand-loving might that I could definitely become an Olympic gymnast.
Over that fortnight, Shannon Miller won a gazillion medals. She wasn’t expected to, and was the unicorn underdog who shocked the pants off everyone. The broadcaster also announced that she was a straight A student with a dad who taught physics. She had curly blonde hair and could do the splits so well. I was pretty in awe of her and that weekend, when my sister was at tutoring (yeah, Asian parents), my mum took me to a bookstore. There was a skinny, little book called: “Gymnastics”.
I devoured that book. I read it so many times the spine got weak and all the pages fell out. I roped dad into building me a “beam,” and bless his cotton socks- he built one for me. It comprised of two planks laid on top of each other, and balanced along three sets of bricks, each three bricks high. My sister and I practised “dismounts” where we’d run along its length, perform a tuck jump off the end and present a “victory” sign. Arms up high: perfect ten– not even an extra step taken on landing.
Come 2017, and my obsession hasn’t dimmed all that much- my sister knows heaps thanks to me. She knows what a Yurchenko is and why Simone Biles, Shawn Johnson, Svetlana Khorkina and Nastia Liukin are so great.
She’s also aware that besides the unbeatable Biles, the other star of the Rio Games was Laurie Hernandez: 16 years old, hugely talented and a very cool cucumber. All these gymnasts (with the pressure they have to handle while risking life and limb to perform perfectly) have a mindset that is *beyond* elite. They’re experts in self-talk. Visualising. Hitting their routines when it counts.
And so when some clever camera man caught Laurie mouthing “You got this” before her silver medal winning beam routine, it went viral. Everyone went nuts. My housemate bought me a pouch that bears those words. She didn’t exactly know it was a throwback to Laurie Hernandez but she did know I was PUMPED when I hugged her jubilantly after she gave it to me for my birthday.
So now, from where it hangs on my wall to however you’re viewing it now, I pass Laurie’s wisdom on: You got this.
Have a fabulous Monday xxx