Training in a gym 35 hours a week in addition to going to school full-time would be tough on anyone, but for 14-year-old gymnast Maddie Desch, it is simply a way to get better and help her reach the lofty goals she has set for herself. Her goal of one day competing in the Olympics for the United States is one that may be reached one day if she can continue to have the success she’s enjoyed so far. And that’s all she is focused on. Her focus has brought her amazing results so far.
Maddie recently won a gold and bronze medal in individual events and silver medal in the all-around at the national junior gymnastics championships in St. Louis. If Maddie had been old enough to compete in the senior division, she would have received an invitation to compete in the Olympic Trials.
“I can’t wait till I’m old enough to be able to compete in the senior division,” Maddie said, who will be attending St. Thomas Aquinas High School in the fall. “It will be great to finally be in that age group.”
Maddie, who trains with the Dragon Gymnastics Team in Blue Springs under Al Fong, is doing everything she can to be the best at the sport she loves.
“Her dedication is amazing,” said Maddie’s mother, Mary. “She usually gets out of school at around 12:30 or 12:45 and then goes straight to train. She travels and competes internationally at times and does all of this while keeping up with her schoolwork. She loves it though and never complains or worries about how busy she is.”
Maddie is living a life different than many of her peers. Since she was 4 years old and began gymnastics recreationally, she’s focused on the sport and hasn’t really been able to be involved in other extracurricular activities. And time with her friends isn’t always easy to find. Maddie says her friends are very supportive of her, though, and cheer her on.
“They (my friends) ask me to spend time, but they know I’m busy and I’m working really hard to achieve my goals so they give me my space. They’re very supportive, and I love that they understand,” she said.
The time for Maddie to achieve her ultimate goals is approaching soon. Next year, she will be in the senior division. If she performs well she will be able to represent the U.S. internationally, and hopefully one day see herself do well enough to make the Olympic team.
“It’s my dream,” Maddie said. “It would be amazing.”
Maddie said she has a lot to work on to get there, though.
“I need to clean up, get my form better and also gain even more skills for difficulty,” Maddie said.
One thing seems apparent. If Maddie doesn’t reach her goals one day, it won’t be from lack of dedication or determination.
“She will give her all,” Mary Desch said. “Everyone around her knows that.”