Davenport representing Helena on beam – Shelby County Reporter

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By MICHELLE AMOUR | Editor-in-chief

HELEN – Rourke Davenport’s life is entirely devoted to gymnastics. At 9, she already qualified for the Talent Opportunity Program (TOPs), which is one of the boxes ticked by all American Olympians.

“It’s a track that all Olympians play on,” said his mother, Robia. “This is usually the start of the search for Olympians for the United States team. Typically, you’re old in gymnastics at 16, so by 14 you should be at level 10, which is the highest level.

Originally from Helena, Rourke has been doing gymnastics since the age of 18 months. It quickly became apparent to Robia that her daughter had found something special.

“She was just a very energetic toddler, and I needed her to have an outlet to release her energy,” Robia said with a laugh. “She danced with gymnastics when she was younger, but she turned to gymnastics more because there are a lot more opportunities.”

Rourke has been attending Legacy Gymnastics in Pelham since the start, and she said she trains five hours a day.

“I like the way you can turn around and do cool stuff,” Rourke said. “I love to have the heel of my toes on the bars.”

TOPs tests are performed by each state and organized according to age groups. The top 100 are drawn from each age group and then from there they move on to the National Championships, where the search for potential Olympian candidates becomes serious. On October 1, Rourke will be competing in the national TOP test among others his age, and Robia has said preparation for this day is the main focus. “They have to learn all the new routines in a month to prepare for them,” said Robia. “So that’s where our main focus is now, to make sure she’s ready.”

Goal setting is an integral part of Rourke’s daily routine, inside and outside the gym. “We always set goals, and she sets goals at the gym in terms of the skills she wants to develop next,” said Robia.

His ultimate goal? “She says she wants to go to the Olympics, and I’m not going to stand in her way,” Robia said.

Rourke said she gets nervous sometimes before performing, but she gets away with it. “I take deep breaths and tell myself I can do it,” she said. “It’s a mixture of excitement and nervousness.”

As a mother, Robia said she also has mixed emotions. “Of course I’m proud of her. She does a lot more than I ever did when I was a kid, ”she said. “Then there’s also, I’m going to watch her and the bars are right next to the glass for the viewing area, and I’m just going to see her feet swinging and it’s like she’s upside down.” on this bar. It makes my heart beat faster. I am very proud, but it is scary.

Rourke said she made a lot of friends doing gymnastics, and it feels good to have friends who understand what goes into gymnastics training. Rourke is home schooled so she can take her training during the day, but she said she has a lot of social interactions with her friends at Legacy and in the Helena community.

“We love living in Helena,” said Robia. “I feel like the people are amazing. Everyone takes care of everyone. It’s really quaint and small… there is always things to do, and we love it.


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