BY Mike Richman – Jordyn Wieber is the hottest name in women’s gymnastics.
“I have to work just as hard as everyone else” Wieber says. “I don’t really get to take a break just because I did well at world championships. I just have to keep pushing myself and work just as hard as I did for worlds.”
Only three U.S. women have been Olympic all-around champions: Mary Lou Retton in 1984, Carly Patterson in 2004 and Nastia Liukin in 2008.
Wieber considers all three role models and hopes to duplicate their feats.
She was fascinated watching Liukin and teammate Shawn Johnson execute flawless routines at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, before Liukin prevailed in all-around and Johnson won a gold medal in balance beam.
“That was just really inspirational,” she says. “Makes me want to push myself that much more in the gyms that I can reach that accomplishment some day.”
Wieber showed an affinity for acrobatics at a young age. She was unusually active around the house, doing back flips, walking on her hands and standing on one leg on tables.
She began taking gymnastics classes and developed a passion for the sport.
“I just remember always wanting to do gymnastics even when I wasn’t at practice. My mom bought me this mat, and I kept it in my basement, and I’d always be practicing,” she says. “Just always wanting to be absorbed in the whole gymnastics thing.”
By age 10, Wieber was competing at the highest junior Olympic level in national and international events. That’s when she began to dream of being an Olympian.
Those dreams will come true in London, where the 17 year old will be representing not only the U.S., but her hometown of DeWitt, Michigan.
The DeWitt community is proud of her gymnastics success. Her high school gave her a pep rally after she returned last year from the World Championships in Tokyo.
“It was really exciting, just coming back and knowing that I had that whole support system back home, that my school and the small town of DeWitt,” she says. “It was really exciting to see all that, and it was a really warm welcome coming back from Tokyo.”
Wieber has built a reputation as a strong and tough competitor with an uncanny ability to perform under pressure. She plans to put those attributes to good use in London.