Fueled By 'Lot Of Courage,' Gymnast, 14, Chases Dream

April 19, 1992|By Mike Jefferson | Mike Jefferson,Contributing writer

"What a dream costs in courage, it gives back in glory," reads a poster hanging inside the Harford Dance & Gymnastics Training Center near Bel Air.

It is a motto 14-year-old gymnast Becky Robinson of Forest Hill, now competing in the Senior Developmental Elite Division for the club, tries to live by when she competes.

"I think it is very true," said Becky as she took a break from her workout. "You have to believe to be able to do anything."

Friday, the elite gymnast will board a plane with her mother, Sharon, and coach, Teresa Yapps, and head for Knoxville, Tenn. There, she'll chaseanother dream competing in the U.S. Classic Elite National Competition, sponsored by the U.S. Gymnastics Federation.

She qualified by scoring 73.580 at the Elite Zone Competition in Allentown, Pa., on March 15.

"It's the biggest meet of the year for me, so it's very important," she said. "I've been training a lot these past two weeks, and I know if I do well I can place high."

Becky has been exposed to competing nationally since she advanced to Level 10, a pre-elite program, two years ago.

She didn't waste time proving her abilities.She won the National Floor Exercise Title with a 9.6 and placed 11thall-around at the Junior Olympic National Championships held in Colorado Springs, Colo., in 1990. She was an alternate for the Junior Olympic National Team that year.

"She has a lot of courage, that's one of the reasons she's so good," said Yapps, who owns the club with her husband, Frank.

"She's not afraid to go for a skill by herself.She has confidence and courage. She's real aggressive and doesn't hold back."

Becky speaks softly and smiles when asked about her aspirations. Her top goal right now: earn a scholarship to a big-time school like UCLA.

As she sits through an interview with a reporter, the energetic youngster seems restless. Her fingers are white from powder she has used to help her grip in earlier routines that day.

"College is a lot different," she says. "It's not as intense, and it's more of a team instead of individual (competition). I don't have thathere because I'm the only elite. I think it will be a lot of fun."

Robinson does, however, have many friends at the club. Her younger sisters Rachel and Amanda also compete for the club. Her father, Jay,says gymnastics has been a family thing for years. He says Becky hasto watch her time to maintain her "A" average in school.

When Becky isn't practicing, she enjoys shopping, outings with friends and tennis.

Yapps and another coach, Dave Cox, have been working with Becky on some new routines for the U.S. Classic Competition.

On uneven bars, Robinson is practicing two release moves in one routine, both rated at the "D" level of difficulty, for which a two-tenths bonus rating is awarded if she completes the routine successfully.

On balance beam, Robinson is practicing two combinations where she connects three somersault skills together, known as a triple series.

Needless to say, moves like these in meet competition can be a concern for a coach.

"I get pretty stressed out about it," said Yapps. "We work so hard and put in so many hours and so much sacrifice. There's alot riding on the meet. I definitely feel the pressure and the intensity of it."

Yapps has been coaching Becky since she was 6.

"Wespend 24 hours a week together, there's got to be a real mutual respect for both parts. You both have the same goals and the same focus,"says Yapps.

Robinson says she watches the other gymnasts at the meet, but she doesn't watch their scores.

"I try to just concentrate on routines," she said.

Her favorite performance is the floor exercise.

Robinson will arrive in Knoxville on Friday. Saturday she'll familiarize herself with the meet equipment. She'll perform her optional routines on Sunday and compulsory routines on Monday.

"I feel we're right on track for this meet," said Yapps. "Her consistency has been gradually improving. I'm looking for her to peak at this meet; I'm hoping she'll place at least in the top 10."

In the developmental division, Robinson has the advantage of being able to perform this year the compulsory routines which are designated for the '96 Olympics. Last summer, she sprained both ankles and lost considerable practice time.

Last year in the Junior "A" division, Robinson finished seventh all-around in the U.S. Classic held in Huntington Beach, Calif.

When she moves into the Senior Elite Division, Robinson must place in the top 20 at the U.S.A. Championships to eventually be considered for the Olympic training team.

For now, her mind -- and courage -- are focused on performing well in Knoxville.

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