2012-08-05 / Community View
Going for the gold
Local gymnast aspires for Olympic medal
LAPEER — The Summer Olympic Games are well underway in London, England right now and the entire world is watching the greatest athletes compete for gold, silver and bronze medals. Among the athletes from the United States, Michigan has several representatives in the London Games including recordbreaking Michael Phelps, who trained at the University of Michigan, and the world champion gymnast from DeWitt, Jordyn Weiber.
Isabella Giannetti, a seven-year-old Lapeer girl, has been glued to the television screen watching Weiber and the rest of the Team USA gymnastics team since the games begin. And that is no surprise, because Bella herself hopes to someday be an Olympic gymnast — and she is already on her way.
Bella, a straight-A second grade student at Bishop Kelley Catholic School, just started gymnastics in December, joining Great Lakes Elite Gymnastics in Oxford, under the watchful eye of coach James Fleener, and director Candi Buchan, both Lapeer County residents.
Bella’s mother, Dana, said the only gymnastics her daughter had ever done before was jumping and flipping on their trampoline at home. Bella had her heart set on trying gymnastics, however, so she joined the training facility at the end of the year. Immediately, Bella showed a natural talent for the sport and quickly picked up a number of talents.
“They moved her up everyday to another level,” said Dana. Just a few weeks later, Bella took seventh place all around at a gymnastics competition in Ohio. Following that, she competed in the Athlete Warrior junior championships and took first place in the all-around competition.
At that time, Bella was a level 3 gymnast, on a scale that goes from 1-10. She has since moved up to a level 5 gymnast and hopes to continue rapidly progressing.
“She has no fear whatsoever,” said Bella’s mother. Like all successful athletes, the young newcomer has laser-like focus and determination. She trains at least 16 hours a week at the gym, and then goes home to train some more. “It’s a constant thing for her,” her mother admitted. “She’s very focused for being seven years old.”
That focus has already found a target — winning an Olympic gold medal someday. “She’s a huge Jordyn Weiber fan,” said Dana of her daughter. “She watches the Olympics constantly. She said she wanted to know what was expected of her for the Olympics.”
While Bella has her sights set long-term on being an Olympic gold medalist, right now she is more focused on upcoming competitions. The gymnastics competition season runs from December through May, and Bella is working every day to improve her skills in order to win more state competitions this year. Her favorite part of gymnastics is the bars, said Bella. “I like that I can do lots of cool tricks.” She admitted that the vault was the hardest part for her to do yet.
Adding to her own natural skill and hard work, the local gymnast is receiving a lot of help at Great Lakes Elite Gymnastics from the coaches, staff, and fellow gymnasts. Dana said she has been very pleased with Bella’s coach, James Fleener. “He’s really good at building up the kids’ confidence,” she said.
Cheering her on at home and at her practices every week are her parents, Dana and Silvio, along with proud grandparents Diane and Duane Thompson. “They’re here everyday to cheer her on,” said Dana of Bella’s grandparents.
Candi Buchan, a former gymnast and coach herself, said the girls at Great Lakes really enjoy the teamwork aspect of the sport. “They are their sisters. The bonding that they have with each other and their coaches, it’s like a family,” Buchan said.
Buchan knows that with the Olympic Games going on right now, a lot of young gymnasts will be watching and dreaming of doing the same thing. To give area children a chance to check out gymnastics for themselves, the gym is holding a grand opening day next week under their new name, Great Lakes Kids Energy Zone. The gym will be open from 1-6 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 12 for guests to participate in and learn about gymnastics, as well as other sports like dance and cheerleading. Great Lakes Kids Energy Zone is located at 715 N. Lapeer Road, Oxford. Information about the grand opening event can be found at www.greatlakeskidsenergy.com or by calling 248-236-9600.
When asked why she trains so hard and so often, Bella simply replied, “So that I can get the gold.”
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