Gymnastics: Olympians make big impression on young gymnasts

Cadara D'Andrea, Shayla Blair impacted by U.S. team in different ways.
By Kyle Fredrickson, For The Oklahoman Published: February 17, 2013

This past summer, the USA women's gymnastics team captivated the world's attention with an all-around gold medal at the London Olympic Games. Nearly 5,000 miles away, two young girls — one in Edmond, the other in Tulsa — were glued to the television, watching the magic unfold.

It might seem like a crazy thought for an elementary student to have, but if Gabby, Jordyn, McKayla, Aly and Kyla could do it, why not them?

The thought? That could be me one day.

On Sunday, Cadara D'Andrea and Shayla Blair stood on a podium at the Cox Convention Center on the final day of the 2013 Nadia Comaneci Invitational, a three-day gymnastics competition that draws in the best young gymnasts from across the state. For both girls, the simple reason for their attendance was the love of sport. The deeper reason was their inspiration: the gold medalists.

D'Andrea competed in the 10-11-year-old division for Oklahoma Gold Gymnastics of Edmond. She placed second in the all-around, second on the floor, and first on the balance beam.

“It's a sport that not everyone can do,” D'Andrea said. “It's challenging.”

Blair was in the 12-13-year-old division as part of Ultimate Gymnastics and Cheer of Tulsa. She was awarded third-place on the balance beam, and a handful of ribbons for the other events in which she competed.

Both were impacted by Olympic gymnasts in different ways.

Blair started gymnastics when she was 18-months-old. But her passion for the sport didn't truly blossom until she witnessed U.S. gymnast Carly Patterson win the all-around gold at the 2004 Athens Games. Young Blair was amazed by what she saw.

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