In nearly three decades, 16-year-old Tia Gin is the first and only gymnast out of the Central Coast to qualify for the 2017 Women’s Junior Olympic National Championships. She is one of seven gymnasts in her age group representing Region 1, which covers California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah.
Tia’s love for the sport started 10 years ago and through the years, she’s gotten really good. However, the biggest challenge came when she first advanced to level 10. Tia took last place in regionals for the past two years.
"She sprained both ankles, fractured her foot, we went to emergency and that was the end of that," said Carol Gin, Tia’s mother.
Tia was struggling with staying healthy, had a death in the family, and got tonsillitis right before her competition. The struggles led to Tia wanting to quit. In fact, Tia tried giving up gymnastics countless times.
"All these years, she says, ‘I don’t really like gymnastics’, but she trains a thousand hours a year." said Gin.
Tia says the hardest part of gymnastics is the physical toll it takes on her body. "The conditioning is really hard but I know if I can get through that, I can get through anything," said Tia.
Through the support of her teammates, mother, and coach, Tia persisted and went from last place to top six for a shot at becoming a national champion.
Tia’s gymnastics coach, Stevie Blum of Performance Athletics Gymnastics says her mantra to Tia is, "In with the good, out with the bad. I tell her to just be Tia. That’s the easiest thing she can be, just be Tia."
This year, Tia is now Tenacious Tia.
What is the gymnast most proud of? "Probably how far I’ve come. All my friends when I was ten years old have all quit but I stayed with it and so I’m proud of that," said Tia.
The national championships will be held May 5 – 7 in Indianapolis.