PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – 15-year-old USA National Team gymnast Konnor McClain was training at Edgewater Gymnastics this week.
She’s a gymnast that’s been making headlines recently because she has a chance to compete in the 2021 Olympics.
She was initially ineligible for the Tokyo games, but since they got pushed back to next year because of COVID-19, the International Gymnastics Federation decided to allow her and other gymnasts born in 2005 to compete in the games.
The West Virginia gymnast is now in the Olympic picture, earlier than her goal of making Team USA in 2024.
“It’s what I’ve worked towards my whole life is 2024, not really 2021 so putting three years into one year is definitely a lot and a lot harder than you would expect it to be,” McClain said.
That means she can’t take a day off of her training, so when her family had to travel to Panama City Beach this week for her brother to compete in a baseball tournament, she needed a place to do that.
Coach Pam Kitchen and the rest of the Edgewater Gymnastics crew were happy to have her.
McClain was amazed to see how much the facilities have come along as well after Hurricane Michael.
“Crazy, I wasn’t expecting it cause I saw her gym and how it got destroyed on Facebook and Instagram and I was like wow. Then I came today, or yesterday, and was like it’s crazy how fast they built up,” McClain said.
McClain’s role model have always been USA gymnasts Shawn Johnson and Aly Raisman and the rest of her nationals team, but she also finds inspiration from the gymnasts she meets all over the country and especially the ones right here in Panama City.
“Since I can’t really stop training right now cause I’m working towards next year, Pam and all the other girls have been so welcoming. I’ve just been doing everything they’re doing, and she always tells me oh you are such an inspiration, but they’re inspiring me because they’re just so welcoming,” McClain said.
Even though McClain said her goal is still to compete in the 2024 Olympics, she definitely could be picked to represent the team in 2021.
At the 2018 U.S. Junior Championships, she finished fifth all-around and first on balance beam. Then, at the 2019 U.S. Junior Championships, second all-around, first on balance beam, second on vault and second on uneven bars.
It would be a dream come true for the 15-year-old who has spent her whole life doing the sport.
“To get called in 2021, I wouldn’t know what to do, my mind would be everywhere like an explosion happened in there,” McClain said.