SILVERDALE — The Olympic Games are just around the corner, and although gymnastics is contested during the summer games, one local gymnast is among a select group of girls nationwide that will get a chance to train this weekend at the United States national team’s training center in Texas.
For 11-year-old Mya Wiley, a gymnast at Olympic Gymnastics Center in Silverdale, it’s a journey she has already made several times. Three years ago, she attended her first B camp after she had success in local competitions.
Since then, she has continually progressed through the ranks, eventually heading to an A camp and then, last January, to her first national development camp where her physical abilities are put to the test under the watchful eye of Valeri Liukin, the national team’s head coach and coordinator, and his coaches.
“This pool [of gymnasts] Mya is in is a pretty shrunk pool,” said Greg Mutchler, Mya’s coach and owner of Olympic Gymnastics Center. “She’s still fairly young. The oldest kids at this camp are 13, some are as young as 8 or 9. It’s really helped us in the program. I’ve had kids every year make it to the B and A camp since 2010, but this is pretty exciting. She’s one of very few kids that have gone this far at her age.”
Mya began gymnastics at the age of 5. A high-energy, rambunctious child, Mya was clearly in need of a physically demanding activity.
Or, in Mya’s words: “I was kind of crazy, my mom couldn’t get me to fall asleep, so I needed something to entertain me.”
Mya now spends her days working on her Level 9 routine as well as some elite routines. In her favorite event, the bars, that means she now needs to be able to let go of and catch the bars. On the balance beam, she now works on elements that do not involve using her hands.
“I like the bars because you get to spin around and fly around and you still have to be focused,” Mya said. “But on the beam you have to be really calm.”
And while, like many young gymnasts, Mya has visions of standing atop the podium, a gold medal around her neck while the National Anthem plays, she also knows that kind of opportunity is many years and many morning and evening training sessions away.
“I think it would be really cool to be in the Olympics, but that’s a long way away,” Mya said.
Hoping to follow in Mya’s footsteps is 9-year-old Miah Reinhart, another gymnast at Olympic Gymnastics, who has been invited to the B camp.
Miah first began the sport at the age of 3 and now is a Level 8 gymnast. She has been preparing for her first trip to a camp by perfecting her routines and continuing to work on her general skills, which she will get to show off at a national level for the first time.
“We do drills the first day, and then the rest is you showing what you can do — your routine and your skills,” Miah said.
Among her talents are handsprings and back handsprings on the balance beam, her favorite event. Miah said she does not get nervous on the beam, even though she is performing flips on an apparatus only four inches wide.
”You just have to go for it,” Miah said.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at email@example.com.