Elite & NCAA Gymnast Training Updates—Part 18


Full Twist contributor Anna Rose Johnson recently caught up with some elite, Level 10, and NCAA gymnasts to discuss their training, future goals, and more.

Chae Campbell, Kaitlin DeGuzman, Talia Denis, Olivia Dunne, Alyssa Glass, Ruby Harrold, Dana Ho, Navia Jordan, Hannah Joyner, Natalia Kapitonova, Jaqueline Kranitz, Mai Murakami, Nadine Joy Nathan, Samantha Partyka, and Charlotte Sullivan provided us with thoughtful insights into their training.


Chae Campbell is a U.S. Level 10 artistic gymnast from Metroplex Gymnastics in Allen, Texas. At the 2015 Nastia Liukin Cup, she placed fifth in the junior all-around, and she also won the junior all-around at the 2015 Texas State Championships. “My training has been going great!” Chae told Full Twist. “The intensity level in the skills I am working on has gone up ever since I began training in the elite program at my gym. I have also been working on consistency and being confident when I set out to do my routines.”

Chae shared her short-term and long-term goals with us: “My short-term goals are to make it to Level 10 Nationals and qualify to be a junior elite this year in May. My long-term goals are to make it on the national team as a junior and senior elite someday, and to one day go to the Olympics.” She added, “I will definitely try to go the elite route! It has always been a dream of mine, ever since the very beginning of my gymnastics career.”

The ambitious 13-year-old added, “For all the gymnasts that have big dreams, I would like to say to never give up on your dreams, even when they feel impossible to accomplish. As long as you have faith and commit to work hard, you can reach your full potential in whatever you dream to achieve.”



Kaitlin DeGuzman is a U.S. junior elite artistic gymnast from Metroplex Gymnastics. At the 2015 Nastia Liukin Cup, she placed fifth on floor exercise and eighth on balance beam in the junior division. “[My training] has been great!” Kaitlin told Full Twist.

The 14-year-old, who is age-eligible for the 2016 Olympics, mentioned her gymnastics goals. “My short-term goal is to place top three in State and qualify to J.O. Nationals,” she said. “My long-term goal is to get a full-ride scholarship.”

Kaitlin also shared her best advice: “Do what you love and love what you do.”



Talia Denis is a U.S. Level 9 artistic gymnast from World Class Gymnastics Academy in Latham, New York. At the 2014 World Class Invitational, she placed second in the all-around and also won silver medals on vault and floor exercise. “[My training has] been going great!” Talia told Full Twist. “I have to say that I think this is my best year ever in gymnastics. It’s competition season, so that means lots of repetition and routines. At the same time I have to [keep] my eye on the skills that I will need for Level 10 next year. I have great coaches at World Class Gymnastics Academy, which is very important. I am very thankful for my coaches and my teammates.”

The 14-year-old described her gymnastics goals to us. “My short-term goals are really focused on my post-season competitions,” she explained. “I am hoping to…make it to Regionals.  Of course, the real goal is Nationals. Long-term, I think that I want to pursue gymnastics in college. Last summer I started seriously researching colleges and looking into their academic programs. I have a list of favorite colleges based on their gymnastics teams, academic standards and campuses.”

Talia is not only a gymnast, but also a touring musician with her own band and two albums. She was recently named a Woman of Substance by a major ITunes podcast. “It’s not always easy [to balance gymnastics and music] because both require a lot of time,” said Talia. “I’m homeschooled, and that really helps out with my schedule flexibility. The usual order of my day is four hours of school, 1-2 hours of music practice, four hours of gymnastics practice and then 1-2 more hours of school , Then relax and off to bed. I am working on starting a clothing line so I spend a good amount of time on that as well. Sometimes it can get tiring, but my family [and] friends give me great support. The gymnastics way of life can really help you to get things done. In this sport you are never ‘done’ learning skills. Routines are never ‘perfect’ so you learn how to work every day to improve. It takes consistency and perseverance. There is just no other way to be successful in optional J.O. gymnastics. That way of living carries over to other areas of my life like school, music and now fashion.  And… it’s not just me. Any upper-level gymnast that you meet will be the same way. There is no shortcut to gymnastics success. I try every day to get better. It does not always go as I hoped but that is part of the sport. I’m the best that I have ever been and I still need to get much better to achieve my goals.”

Talia added, “As soon as the post-season is over I am headed back to the studio to record my third album and get ready for the summer music tour season. Look me up on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, and my website www.taliadenis.com.”



Olivia Dunne is a U.S. junior elite artistic gymnast from Eastern National Academy of Paramus in New Jersey. The youngest junior international elite to compete at the 2014 Secret U.S. Classic, she also won the junior floor title at the 2015 WOGA Classic. “My training has been going well,” Olivia told Full Twist. “I am preparing for the Classics now that I have qualified. I am having fun working on new skills and upgrades.” She added, “I am working on an Onodi on beam and also an Arabian. I’m also working on an Arabian double front on floor and a double layout dismount on bars.”

Olivia’s short-term goal is to qualify to the P&G Championships based on her score from the U.S. Classic. “My long-term goal is to one day represent the United States on an international assignment,” she told us.

The 12-year-old’s next competition will be the American Classic in Texas. “I like that meet because it is held at the ranch where I train every couple of weeks at Developmental Camp,” Olivia explained.

When asked if she’d like to share something with the Full Twist readers, Olivia said, “One of my favorite things about competing at the U.S. Classic is that I get a new leotard designed just for me! I love fashion and the whole process of designing. My coach, Jen, and I work together to pick out colors and fabrics. It is really fun.”



Alyssa Glass is a former U.S. Level 10 gymnast who now competes for the College of William and Mary in NCAA gymnastics. “Training overall has been going really well this year!” Alyssa told Full Twist. “Every year of college, I have felt as though I have gotten better at doing quality gymnastics rather than focusing on how many numbers and sets I can do.”

The junior told us, “Unfortunately my goals for the remainder of the season involve being the best cheerleader I can be. I [recently] suffered a significant injury to my thumb. It has hindered my ability to compete in our conference championship meet at Yale. My goals were to repeat placing on bars and being all conference on that event, as well as to be all conference on vault.”

Alyssa mentioned some of her new skills for the future. “Next year I hope to debut my front 1 ½ to immediate back layout step out on floor and a toe front full dismount on bars,” she explained.

She doesn’t think she will continue gymnastics after her NCAA career concludes. Alyssa said, “My immediate goal after graduation [is] to go to law school.”

Alyssa added, “College gymnastics and competing at the Division I level is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. In general, gymnastics has taught me a lot of life lessons, but I truly believe that striving and competing for a school is tremendous motivation for young girls. It is goal any gymnast should be extremely proud to achieve. It is truly worth all the hard work that club gymnastics entails.”



Ruby Harrold is one of the top senior elite artistic gymnasts from Great Britain. In addition to helping her team win the silver at the 2014 European Championships, she also qualified to two consecutive World uneven bars finals. “Training is going okay!” Ruby told Full Twist. “I’m tackling a shoulder injury at the moment which is frustrating as I am unable to train properly, but I’m managing to keep myself occupied by doing conditioning, going to the fitness gym to maintain my cardio, and attending some fitness classes too!”

On the subject of her gymnastics goals, Ruby told us, “My short-term goals at the moment would be to be part of the Worlds team heading to Glasgow at the end of the year for the Olympics qualification! It would be absolutely amazing to be part of this team because it is in one of our home nations and is part of the qualification process for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games!!”

Primarily known for her innovative uneven bars routine, Ruby said that when she is fit again, she can hopefully show the new connections that she was working on prior to her injury.

Ruby added, “I’d like to say thank you to all the readers of Full Twist and to all the spectators of gymnastics for expressing an interest in such an unusual and fantastic sport! It’s so different [than] anything else out there and the interest it brings helps us as athletes to be able to continue to compete and look forward to competing in front of such passionate crowds!”



Dana Ho is a former U.S. Level 10 artistic gymnast from WOGA who now competes for University of California, Berkeley in NCAA gymnastics. “Training has been going well,” Dana told Full Twist. “My coaches, Justin and Liz, have told us that the most important part of competing is having fun and that shouldn’t change as we head into the postseason. That said, we have been training harder in preparation for Championships and the challenges of competing in new situations, such as traveling to states with higher altitude or competing for multiple days at a time.”

Dana explained, “Our goal each and every day is to get ‘One Day Better.’ By the end of the season, all those small changes will have added up to a big change. I want to focus on making those small improvements to help my gymnastics program toward an opportunity at competing at the sport’s highest level.”

When asked if she might continue gymnastics after NCAA, Dana responded, “So far, my experience at Cal has been extremely rewarding. However, I have other goals I’d like to pursue once my collegiate career is over, including owning my own bakery. I was also just accepted into the Haas School of Business at Cal, which is a tough but prestigious program that I know will prepare me for a number of possible career paths.”



Navia Jordan is a U.S. Level 10 artistic gymnast from VEGA in St. Augustine, Florida. At the 2015 State Championships, she placed eighth in the all-around and won the balance beam silver. “My training has been great!” Navia told Full Twist. “I’ve been working hard…in hopes of making my goal of Nationals for my final J.O. season. Like every athlete we have our good and bad days, but I love being in the gym to push myself every day.”

Navia noted that she has “so many” gymnastics goals, and explained some of them to us. “I would have to say that my main short-term goals for gymnastics would be to do well at my remaining competitions and work to get bigger skills. This summer I want to start working on hindorffs and twisting my yurchenko vault. My long-term gymnastics goal would be to compete at the collegiate level.”

When asked if she might try elite gymnastics, Navia answered, “Honestly, no, but that’s not saying I have not trained for it once upon a time. When I was about eight years old I trained for elite gymnastics for about three years before I decided it wasn’t for me. Although I love watching the girls compete, it is not something I aspire to do.”

Navia shared some of her best advice: “I want to tell you all, whether you are struggling or not, to stick with it because the sport only gets better from here on out. Gymnastics is a challenge, but it is one that can only build you up. Also, as a fellow gymnast, I know that there are a lot of people that support you and guide you along your journey, but always be sure that you follow your heart in what you want to do because ultimately it is your decision.”



Hannah Joyner is a U.S. junior elite artistic gymnast. She formerly competed for First in Flight in North Carolina, and recently relocated to World Champions Centre in Texas, the home of reigning World all-around champ Simone Biles. “[My training] has been going very well,” Hannah told Full Twist. “I am working on upgrades on all four events.”

Hannah explained her gymnastics goals: “My short-term goal is to qualify to the P&G Championships. I have already qualified for the Secret Classic so my first short-term goal has been accomplished. I’m really excited this year and I feel I’m more equipped and ready than I was last season. My long-term goal is to place in the top six spots at the P&G Championships and make it on the junior national team. I’m working on consistency with all my routines and continuing to add upgrades on all my events.”

The 13-year-old is hoping to debut some new skills this year. “I have a new release movement on bars (hindorff pike) and I have a new series on beam,” said Hannah. “I’m working hard to upgrade my vault and floor passes as well.”

Hannah told us that her next competition “will be the American Classic at the end of May at the Karolyi Ranch.” She added, “I’m super excited about being at my new gym World Champions Centre! It is a great opportunity and I love training there. The coaches know what it takes to be a successful gymnast. I have learned so much since I’ve been there and I look forward to all the great experiences ahead. I’m excited about all the new skills I have been learning and I love being part of such a great team. Going back to the developmental camps has been a great experience as well and I am honored to train in the gym alongside such [a] great gymnast as Simone Biles!!”



            Natalia Kapitonova is a U.S. junior elite artistic gymnast from Russia. At the recent International Gymnix competition in Canada, Natalia won the junior all-around silver medal and the uneven bars gold. “I am proud [of my performance at Gymnix],” Natalia told Full Twist. “I made some mistakes on beam, but I did my best. I will work harder to do better next time. Bars and floor were good.” She added, “It was an amazing experience, I’m glad I had the chance to come. I am very impressed by the Canadian gymnasts, they are very good and strong.”

Natalia, who competed at last winter’s Voronin Cup, explained her gymnastics goals to us. “In the short-term, I am working on improving my execution and on stabilizing my elements,” she said. She noted that she is working on a two back handspring series on balance beam as well as a full-out dismount on the uneven bars.

She concluded, “I just want to gain more confidence to do better in competition. My ultimate goal is to be selected in the team for the next Olympics in Rio…My focus stays mostly on Rio.”



Jacqueline “Jax” Kranitz is a U.S. Level 10 artistic gymnast from Colorado Aerials. At the 2015 Nastia Liukin Cup, she placed 17th in the junior all-around, with her highest score coming on uneven bars. “My training has been going very well,” Jax told Full Twist. “Except [for] the inevitable ankle pain from short landings, I have been injury-free! At this point in the season I’m really just trying to perfect all of my skills and routines. Training has not only been good gymnastics-wise, but it has also been really fun too. I look forward to going to the gym every day and spending time with all of my teammates.”

Jax explained her gymnastics goals to us. “One of my short-term goals for gymnastics is to qualify to J.O. Nationals this year since I was out last year and had to give up my spot in NITs the year before,” she commented. “From what I have heard it sounds like an amazing experience and I really hope to qualify. Another one of [my] goals is to improve my toe-point. Everyone has their weaknesses and that is definitely one of mine! A long-term goal of mine would be to get a college scholarship to a Division I school.”

While Jax said she probably won’t be debuting any new skills this year, she hopes to compete a double layout on floor next year. “I have never competed it in a meet so I am very excited to try to do that next year,” she told us.

Jax attempted elite gymnastics in 2013, attending several elite developmental camps at the Karolyi Ranch and qualifying as a HOPES gymnast. “[However] I didn’t get to compete in the Challenge because I broke my hand two weeks before the competition,” she explained. “Then somewhere around November I injured my hamstring and I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to continue doing gymnastics. So I stepped out of the gym completely in January of 2014 and then decided to come back in June and started training full Level 10 hours in September. When I came back I decided that I loved the sport again, but I just wanted to be a Level 10, at least for this season. So I probably will not try elite gymnastics again, but you never know.”

When asked if there was anything she’d like to tell the Full Twist readers, Jax said, “I am just really excited to be competing again in this sport and I am so honored to be able to answer your questions for this blog!



Mai Murakami is a Japanese senior elite artistic gymnast. A veteran of two World Championships, she placed fourth in the floor final at the 2013 Antwerp Worlds. “Now I am ready for the National Championships in April,” Mai told Full Twist. “I practice five hours a day. I have a little pain in my back but it’s no big deal. Now my condition is 70%.”

Mai described her gymnastics goals to us: “My short-term goal is to become a member of [the] World Championships team competing in Glasgow in 2015.
My long-term goal is to become a member of the Olympic team competing in Rio in 2016.”

19-year-old Mai is not sure if she will debut new skills this year. “I’m not sure because I have just started Nippon Sport Science University,” she explained. “And [I] will probably have a new training situation. But I’d like to improve my physical and mental condition before trying new skills.” Mai’s next competition will be the Japanese National Championships, to be held on April 25-26.

When asked what she’d like to tell the Full Twist readers, Mai replied, “I will start a new situation and leave my home, but I want to keep training for impressive gymnastics. Please wish me luck.”



            Nadine Joy Nathan is a first-year senior elite artistic gymnast from Singapore. At the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, she placed 18th in the all-around final. “My training has been in a recovery stage, from a fractured ankle, but [it] is improving,” Nadine Joy told Full Twist last month. “I had fractured my right ankle last November, and therefore have been training in a recovery state. In late February, having spent some months focusing on conditioning training, I was able to bear weight on the ankle and have since been working to get back into my routines in order to take part in the Singapore National Championships in March this year, but the progress is slow.”

Nadine described her gymnastics goals. “My short-term goal is help my team win the SEA Games in June this year. As this event is taking place in my home country, I hope to be able to perform well so as to garner more support for Artistic Gymnastics in the competitions ahead. Having spent the last few months recovering from an injury and getting back into shape for the SEA Games, I haven’t really thought about much else and thus, have not made long-term goals as yet. Of course, like all athletes, the Olympic Dream lies ahead.”

The 16-year-old noted that her next international meet with be the SEA Games in June, “held in my beautiful Singapore.”

Nadine explained her situation with new skills: “I hope to be able to debut some new skills this year, however [I am] still recovering from my fractured ankle. Although my injury has set me back a little in my training program, I am still hopeful that I will be able to debut some new skills this year, possibly [on] vault.”

She added, “One of my objectives is to inspire more young people with my passion in the sport. I hope that there will be more awareness and support for artistic gymnastics in Singapore.”



            Samantha Partyka is a former U.S. Level 10 artistic gymnast who now competes for the University of Utah in NCAA gymnastics. “Training has been going very well, just finishing up our regular season,” Samantha told Full Twist. “[We] want to carry the success we’ve had throughout the regular season to the post-season.”

The freshman told us, “After my NCAA career concludes I do not think I will continue with gymnastics.”

On the subject of new skills, Samantha explained, “We are working on new skills in the gym, but with post-season starting up we will stick to the routines that we have been consistent with this season in competition.”

Samantha remarked that her goals for the remainder of the season “are to stay healthy and contribute as much as I can to the team.”



Charlotte Sullivan is a senior elite artistic gymnast from New Zealand. At the 2014 World Championships in Nanning, China, she ranked 100th in qualifications. “My training has been going well,” Charlotte told Full Twist. “I am just getting back into things as I had a bit of down time over the Christmas holidays, which was nice to have a little break.”

Charlotte explained, “My short-term goals for this year would be the World Cup event in Portugal and the Flinders International in Belgium and doing well in those two competitions. Another goal is to qualify and compete in the World Championships this year in Glasgow.”

The 16-year-old told us that her next competition will be around April, “which will be the qualifying competition for the World Cup in May.”

Charlotte is hoping to debut some new skills this year. “I have been working a lot on my dismounts for bars and beam so hopefully I will be competing those this year,” she noted.

Charlotte added, “I’m really excited, I’ve just been offered a full scholarship to the University of Iowa in America for 2016. I can’t wait!”

Special thanks to all the gymnasts for chatting with us! Stay tuned for Part 19, which will include updates with Enus Mariani, Alaina Kwan, and others!

Image via Getty Images.

One Comment

  1. Malorie says:

    Kapitonova is a U.S. junior elite? Uhhhhhh…

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