DeRidder gymnast makes Team USA

Lynlee Taylor, an 11-year-old national bronze medalist in gymnastics, poses with her medals and the U.S. flag. Taylor was selected to be a part of the U.S. gymnastics team.

Special to the American Press

A DeRidder gymnast will represent the United States in November when she competes in the World Age Group Gymnastics Competition in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Lynlee Taylor, 11, daughter of Wesley and Amber Taylor, is a national bronze medalist and was selected to be a part of the U.S. team after she outperformed peers in the trampoline division of three prerequisite competitions. A minimum score of 132.4 is required; Lynlee scored 137.

Lynlee said that hearing the news that she had been selected was an incredible moment. She participated in the competition last year, but fell short of making the team. She said that failure filled her with the drive to return this year and secure her place on the 2018 team.

“I was very excited to have this opportunity for a trip of a lifetime,” she said. “I’m thankful my hard work paid off and honored to have been selected.”

Her mother said that seeing the moment her daughter’s hard work was recognized and her dreams realized was a moment that she will always remember.

“I know how hard she worked for this,” Taylor said. “She came home from nationals last year down, but not out. She set her goals and went to work at being consistent and to bounce higher. As a mother, I have watched my daughter work toward something, set goals and sometimes even fail, and then to see her reach an honor that she fell short of last year was nothing short of amazing.”

Lynlee began participating in gymnastics at the age of 4, making her way into competitions when she was 6. Her first years of competitions involved a varied group of skillsets including trampoline, double trampoline and tumbling as she worked her way to the youth Elite Team level last year. At that point, her mother said, she was able to choose what area she wished to concentrate the most on and Lynlee chose the trampoline.

In addition to ranking third in the nation, Lynlee is a silver medalist in Region 5 — Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, George, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee.

While Russia may still be a few months away, Lynlee’s preparations have already begun. She will attend a World Age Group Verification Camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., with the rest of the U.S. team Aug. 28-Sept. 1. There, she will focus on practicing a new routine with a higher degree of difficulty, she said, with the intention of raising her potential scores at the Russia meet.

In addition to her training, Lynlee, a DeRidder Junior High student, will also continue her education via virtual schooling. The combination of training and schooling, she said, were the least of her worries.

“I’m more nervous about visiting another country,” she said. “That makes me more nervous than competing.”

For her parents, seeing Lynlee be able to represent the United States is the culmination of dreams they have had for their daughter since they brought her into the country at just 6 months old.

“We adopted her from Korea,” Taylor said. “After we brought her home and helped her gain citizenship someone once said that she had won the lottery, but I assure you we are the rich ones.”

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