When Mollie Hartmann sets her sights on a goal, she’s willing to bend over backwards to accomplish it.
Hartmann, 17, is one of several gymnastics team members from Gymnastics Gold who competed in the 2011 AAU Junior Olympic Games held in New Orleans in early August. At the event Hartmann, along with Sydney Robinson, 14, and Deja Malone, 14, won national titles.
In addition to winning titles, Hartmann won three individual gold medals, one of them in the all-around category, in addition to one silver medal and one bronze medal. Robinson won three gold medals, including one for the all-around category, along with two silver medals. Malone won four gold medals, one of them in the all-around category, as well as one silver medal.
Robinson said that it was her second year participating in the event, and that she plans to continue pursuing gymnastics into college and beyond.
Sydney’s mother, Denise Robinson, said that she feels like gymnastics has played an important role in teaching her daughter how to strike a balance between her sport and school.
“As soon as she gets out of school, she’s at the gym practicing, so she has to be disciplined and have good time management in order to do well in school,” Robinson said.
Other gold medal winners at the Junior Olympics included Alex Mazur, 14, who won one gold medal and three silver medals; Kelsey Lord, 13, who won two gold medals, one silver and one bronze; and Elizabeth Harrison, 13, who won two gold medals and three silver medals.
In addition, other girls from Gymnastics Gold who medaled at the event were Carolyn Barrett-Guess, 12, who won three silver medals and two bronze; and Alyssa Bye, 15, who won five bronze.
Jim Mousseau, head coach at Gymnastics Gold, said that he and the other coaches were proud of the entire group’s performance at the Junior Olympics.
“They work well together. They are close in age, they really support each other, and they listen to me most of the time,” he said. “There’s a lot of potential for these girls when it comes to college gymnastics.”
Hartmann, a senior at Westminster Schools of Augusta who wants to continue to compete in gymnastics at Baylor, said that she feels her experience as a gymnast has helped her in other aspects of her life as well.
“Gymnastics teaches you very good body control and it strenghthens your mind because you have to overcome your fears,” Hartmann said. “It teaches you time management because I practice for at least 13 hours a week, and on top of that I take 4 AP classes.”
Mental conditioning is vital in gymnastics, according to Mousseau, who emphasized that one of the keys to being a good gymnast requires a sharp mental focus.
“It’s probably 75 percent mental,” Mousseau said.