Photo courtesy of Grace Yip

Tumbling towards the future

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Balancing on narrow beams and mounting uneven bars, freshman Grace Yip has been intrigued by the art of gymnastics ever since she was young.

Back to when she was five years old, Yip was always found creating obstacle courses around her house. As a result, pouncing to and fro easily became the highlight of her day. Her mother registered her into Payke Gymnastics Academy, located in South Pasadena, where she could perform her stunts in a safer environment.

“[Gymnastics] has taught me discipline, determination, and [how] to face challenges,” Yip said. “It’s fun and scary at the same time when I learn new skills.”

The sport is known for its strict requirements on strength, flexibility, and coordination. Bearing just as much negatives as positives, gymnastics is not always so graceful. Performing in front of a panel of judges and knowing that the audience will be anticipating the upcoming performances, gymnasts are bound to become nervous and doubt their abilities. This could greatly impact a gymnast’s overall confidence, as judges deduct points for every mistake made.

“You sometimes get a lot of mental blocks because of the scary skills [taught],” Yip said, “or you get injured and that sets you back a lot.”

With the support of her team, the Shooting Stars, and the people around her, Yip is determined to overcome her worries despite her fears.

“I face my fears by taking deep breaths and knowing that my friends are there to mentally support me,” Yip said.

She has won several awards in four different events (vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor) at competitions in the area and globally. Two awards that stand out to her the most are her gold level all-around at state championships and second place silver level all-around at world championships. Yet, she believes that competing with new skills and getting back up after errors are more important than physical prizes.

Even with utmost dedication towards gymnastics, Yip is not particularly viewing it as a possible career path. She explains that she does not want to rush into her future so soon and wishes to explore other options out in the world. With the lessons she has acquired, she wants to give advice to others that are new in the sport.

“Some personal goals I have are to encourage the younger gymnasts at my gym and to teach them not just about gymnastics but [also] life skills,” Yip said.

Yip will continue to swing from opportunities to achievements and hopes to further excel in what she loves to perform best: gymnastics.

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