London 2012 Olympics: 10 Things You Need to Know About Kyla Ross
U.S. gymnast Kyla Ross is one of a kind, and she's taking her talents and personality to London this summer for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Ross was born in Hawaii, which automatically makes her cool in my book. She's also an active member of the Twitter community, and you can follow her @kyla_ross96.
There is a whole lot more to her than that, though, and if you're interested in finding out who she is and what she's done to get to this point in her young career, then keep reading.
She's a Champion
Going all the way back to 2005—when she was eight years old—Ross has been a winner.
According to Ross' official website, she was so good that she skipped level eight in 2007.
She qualified to become a junior international elite competitor in 2009, won the all-around at the U.S. Classic, won the U.S. National Championships and then qualified for her first U.S. National Team. From there, she represented Team USA at the Pan American Games in Brazil, helping them win team gold. She also brought home four individual medals—three golds and a silver.
2012 is the first year Ross is eligible to compete for America as a senior member of the team, and she made the Olympic team on her first attempt.
The bottom line is that Ross is a champion at heart, and she trains her body and mind to no end in order to make her dreams become a reality.
Her Nickname Is "Mighty Mouse"
Kyla Ross' Junior Nationals coach once called her "Mighty Mouse," according to NBCOlympics.com, and that nickname has stuck with her.
It's not hard to see why, either. Ross, listed at 5'1", has an amazing ability to get sky high with her vaults and jumps on the balance beam and floor exercises.
What a mouse!
She Climbed Everything as a Child
The reason Kyla Ross got involved in gymnastics in the first place is that she used to climb everything as a child, according to her website. As a result, her parents enrolled Ross into the Greenville Gymnastics Training Center in South Carolina—likely for their own sanity.
It sounds eerily similar to the story of Michael Phelps, as he was a hyperactive kid who couldn't stop moving, according to KidzWorld.com.
For my two cents, I'm glad to see that some parents still have the right idea about hyperactive kids. Many kids these days are given medications, when all they really need is some good, old fashioned, extreme exercise.
She's the Youngest American Competing in 2012
Kyla Ross, at the age of 15, is the youngest American heading to London to compete in the 2012 Summer Games, according to the Voice of America. Heck, she won't even turn 16 until October 24.
Don't expect the pressure of the moment to phase Ross, though. As I mentioned in the first slide, she's been competing at the highest levels since she was a pre-teen.
For her part, Ross says she likes being the youngest, according to the Voice of America report:
"I enjoy sort of being the youngest and having older girls to look up to have advice for [me]...From this experience, it's definitely been a really long journey and as my dad tells me, 'You always have to enjoy the moment.' So I definitely want to have fun when I go to London and enjoy being with the team competing, and hopefully representing Team USA as well as we can."
We'll be rooting for you, Kyla.
Her Favorite Food Is Salmon
It doesn't surprise me that a girl born in Hawaii loves eating salmon, and according to USAGym.org, it's her favorite food.
On a side note, I wonder if I'd lose the weight I'm hanging onto if I ate more salmon instead of Cheetos...
But I digress.
In addition to loving salmon, Ross likes to cook, loves pop music, thinks math is cool and likes to watch the TV show Family Guy.
What I want to know is this: How in the world does a young woman as busy as Ross have time to watch TV?
Trains 30-to-35 Hours Per Week
Did I mention Ross was a busy girl?
According to her website, Ross says she trains between 30-to-35 hours per week. That's almost a full-time job—not to mention the fact that she is a high school student.
Well, you don't get as good as Ross as fast as she's gotten to this point by slacking off. I'll bet she and her parents both sleep well at night, though, given all the work they put in on a constant basis.
Her Favorite Book Is: The Hunger Games
Kyla Ross' age group is the target demographic for Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, and according to USAGym.org, Collins hit the mark when it came to Ross.
Maybe reading about a post-apocalyptic world helps Ross deal with her brutally tough schedule. If I were her, I'd want to escape the grind every once in a while with a good book, too.
She Can Do the Amanar Vault
For those of you who may not know what the Amanar is or why it's special, here is the definition, according to Gymnasticszone.com:
In women’s vaulting, this is the name for a 2&1/2 twisting Yurchenko vault, a vault named after Simona Amanar of Romania. It is a Yurchenko-style vault, with a round-off onto the board, a back handspring onto the horse, and another 1&1/2 somersaults and 2&1/2 twists on the back side of the vault, which makes it a double somersault vault in layout with 2&1/2 twists. The vault was first done by Simona Amanar internationally at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics.
Not many women in the entire world are capable of performing this rare and difficult vault, but Ross is one of them. If we're lucky, and if Ross is feeling confident enough, we might see her try and pull it off in London in August.
You can watch Ross perform this vault in a practice session here: Gymnastike.org.
Her Role Model Is Shannon Miller
It's important to have role models, and Kyla Ross picked a good one.
According to NBCOlympics.com, Ross' role model is former Olympic gold medalist Shannon Miller, saying, "In addition to her numerous gymnastics achievements, she is a strong woman who has faced personal hardships, but continued to stay involved in the gymnastics world."
By personal hardships, Ross is likely referring to Miller's battle with ovarian cancer back in 2011. It's a battle Miller won, though, just like all the Olympic gold medals she won in the 1990s.
If Ross continues to look up to and admire women like Miller, she'll always come out ahead in the sport of gymnastics and in her walk of life.
Ross Isn't One to Shed Tears
Kyla Ross is a fighter. She has an indomitable will to win, and she doesn't allow herself any room for excess emotions.
According to the AP, when the five young women who were chosen to go to London found out that they were the ones selected, everyone started shedding tears...except for Ross.
Her father, Jason Ross, who is a former minor league baseball player, talked about this side of her, saying:
She’s just so competitive. It doesn’t matter if it’s gymnastics or if it’s school. She would come home from school and say, ‘This girl got a better grade than me’ and Kyla got a 98. She just always wants to win.
Ross isn't going to let herself or her teammates get swept away by emotions in London, and even though she's the youngest member of the team, her poise and determination may be the key to America bringing home the gold in the team competition.