Mira Costa junior Isabelle Connor will be competing in the 2017 USA Gymnastics National Championships in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 29 to July 1 against the top rhythmic gymnasts in the country.
“I have gone through terribly long, frustrating, exhausting days of training where nothing was working and I could barely breath, all my body wanted to do was cry and give out and all I could hear were screams for me to put myself together,” Connor said. “But I have worked through the numerous injuries, cuts, tears and bruises and, as bad as it seems, I would not exchange it for anything else.”
Connor qualified for the USA Gymnastics National Championships on May 21 at the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center in New York, placing in the top 17 out of 30 in the country. She competed four routines with different apparatuses such as a ball, clubs, a ribbon and a hoop.
“I was very surprised and super happy when I qualified because usually you have to do four good routines and I only did three good routines because I struggled with the ribbon,” Connor said. “ I didn’t think that I was going to make it but when they announced my name I was shocked because I had thought that all of my hard work was going to be for nothing but it wasn’t.”
Connor trains four to six hours a day at the Los Angeles School of Gymnastics. She started when she was in fourth grade and is now a level 10 elite rhythmic gymnast, the highest level, and is ranked 14th in the country.
“A lot of training and hard work has gone into being a level ten gymnast,” Connor said. “I didn’t make it the first year I tried out because I wasn’t mentally strong but it has helped me to be headstrong and be confident in myself.”
Connor has trained in Ukraine four times in the past year with Olympic bronze medalists and coaches. She travelled there in the middle of last year, last summer, this past winter and competed there in March.
“Training in Ukraine is much more intense,” Connor said. “The level of discipline and work ethic needed to train there is huge, which I think is one of my strongest qualities.”
At nationals, Connor hopes to complete four perfect routines so she can make it into finals and then be one of eight girls in the country that make it onto the national team. Next year she will be travelling to Ukraine for three months to train and will dedicate most of her time to the sport.
“I love the sport so much and I wouldn’t want to dedicate my time to anything else,” Connor said. “Some days it is hard and I really don’t feel like practicing but it ends up being okay and it is all worth it in the end.”