Hey, football guys. You think you are so tough? Hitting, grunting sweating with pounds of equipment that you have to wear once a week for a few hours?
Try being a gymnast. Lindsey Walker, a Level 10 junior gymnast at Alonso High School who practices at Victory Gymnastics Training Center, only wishes her body could suffer that limited amount of wear and tear.
Now an elite gymnast, it wasn’t that way when Walker started at age 4. When she realized she had skills, it was time to make a big decision – baseball or gymnastics. And while she was a pretty good baseball player, she chose leotards and hours of practice, six days a week. There has been plenty of glory and trips to the hospital.
Walker said she has more injuries than she can count and can’t come up with the number of small fractures she has endured, but that’s what it takes to make it to the elite level.
“I just wanted to get into it for fun,” Walker said. “I was always flipping around and I liked it. I liked baseball also, but I thought I had a better future in gymnastics.”
By age 7 she was catching some eyes around the state and won titles at Levels 4 to 8. But, it came at a price. Her body shows the wear and tear from what her coach and the owner of her gym, Viktor Savritski, said is the hardest sport in the world. She practices from 5:30 to 9 p.m. six days a week and has to ice her back twice a day. During classes at Alonso, sitting at her desk can become uncomfortable. She is well known cracking up other students when her back cracks in the middle of class.
Even after two ankle surgeries, she is always ready to come back for more.
“You can never be good enough at this,” Walker said. “If you want to get into the Elite Level, you have to work at it. I get tired sometimes, but it’s always worth it.”
Savritski, who is looked upon by Walker as a second father, has put a lot into the Victory gym he has owned for eight years.
“I want to make sure they are having fun,” Savritski said. “At first we just teach flexibility and let them have fun, but to get to where Lindsey is takes a lot of work.”
Savritski, who has taught three Olympians, was a national success in the Ukraine and performed with the Moscow Circus Flying Trapeze troupe. He said that for anyone to reach Level 10 classification, they would have to start no later than age 4 – or they are considered too old.
Walker said it has all been worth it, the injuries, the time away from friends and the daily grind. She is a 4.0 student at Alonso and said she still has a nice social life.
“I am having fun,” Walker said. “It can be tough, but that’s what makes us do this. We are tough. We laugh at the football guys when they complain. They don’t know what we go through every day.”