The Nation's Top Gymnasts Compete In Palm Springs - Palm Springs News, Weather, Traffic, Breaking News

The Nation's Top Gymnasts Compete In Palm Springs

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PALM SPRINGS, Ca. -

While the CareerBuilder Challenge has the golf world focused on a soggy La Quinta, thanks to a special event, Palm Springs is the focus of the gymnastics world where athletes of all skill level, including the nation's elite, are competing this weekend, and where KMIR ran into one fearless competitor.

Savannah Hellenga is competing in her first meet as a first-year gymnast. But she has no fear.

"You get to do your best and have fun," says 7-year-old Hellenga about the sport.

"Were you scared at all when you first got started and had to do a flip or anything like that?" She's asked as she shakes her head no.

"You were never scared?" She's asked again. "Nope." "Are you getting nervous at all?" Is the followup. "Nope, just excited..." 

The excitement is felt whether they're first year gymnasts or the nations elite athletes, the 3rd Annual Palm Springs Gymnastics Cup is the focus of the gymnastics world this weekend. 

Friday was a qualifying event for Olympic hopefuls, including local girl Mahleea Werline. Who, as you might remember, KMIR profiled as she earned an invitation to train with Team USA in Houston this summer.  

Through the weekend, some 3,000-4,000 spectators are expect to be in town enjoying the sport, while some 800 gymnasts will compete. There's room for the new athletes, as well as the Level 9, 10 and Elite ranked gymnasts (Elite level gymnasts are eligible for the national team).  

"Ever since I was a little kid, I've loved everything about it," says Level 9 gymnast Meghan Rodriguez. "I've loved flipping and balancing and having to try my hardest to be my best and the struggle you get...You have to train really hard for it." 

And travel. Rodriguez says she commutes two hours one-way from Calexico to the Gymnastics Academy, the local training facility that's hosting the Palm Springs Gymnastics Cup and does so 4 days a week for her 4-hour-long practices. 

But Rodriguez adds the balancing act she's learning through gymnastics carries well beyond the beam. 

"The amount of dedication you have to have with this," says Rodriguez. "How you have to average out your school work, it's preparing you for a lot." 

She hopes to earn a college scholarship through gymnastics. 

The meet continues at the Palm Springs Convention Center through Sunday. More information, including schedule, is available HERE.
 

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