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Local gymnast, 10, near the pinnacle of her sport

Gracie Allen, 10, of Lamar County got a little more than she expected when she placed in the fourth annual Courtney Kupets ‘Pink’ Gymnastics Invitational meet in Savannah. She was one of the lucky few contestants to meet the 2004 U.S. women’s gymnastic team, complete with autographs, photo opportunities and gym bags full of goodies ‘“ all while raising money for breast cancer research. ’It was something neat,’ said her mother Angela Allen. ‘Not all the girls got to meet them.’ Gracie competes on Level 6, placing fifth on floor with a score of 9.275 and ninth on beam with a score of 9.1 out of 186 competitors on her level. Nearly 1,000 gymnasts took part. She went with a team from World Extreme in Mc-Donough coached by Irina and Sergey Zhukov. The medals, of course, were all on pink ribbons and many teams showed up with pink uniforms or hair ribbons. ’She’s been doing gymnastics for about six years now and practices about 16 hours a week. She shows the other kids how to do it at recess,’ said her mother Angela Allen. ‘Her goal is to go to the Olympics. Mom’s goal is college.’ This is because only eight women go to the Olympics and of those only four compete. ’She wants to go all the way and be a gymnastics coach in her own gym,’ Allen said. Right now Gracie is a student at the elementary school where she is consistently on the A/B honor roll. ‘She’s amazing to have that kind of skill,’ said her mother. No one knew the meet and greet was going to happen and the surprise announcement came as Gracie and her teammates were getting their medals. ‘Carly Patterson was the all-around Olympic gymnast that year,’ said her mother Angela Allen. ‘She had breakfast with Kupets, who was injured in the ’04 competitions in Athens, Greece. She was a Georgia gym dog. She told Gracie she had to repeat levels before she made it to the Olympics.’ The Allens also met beam specialist Annia Hatch, Carly Patterson, Terin Humphrey and Courtney McCool, other members of the team which placed second behind Rumania. Gracie’s next goal is to meet Shawn Johnson, another Olympic gymnast she saw on TV who inspired her to try the sport. ’We were watching the Olympics together and four years later here we are,’ said Allen. ‘She’s only three levels away from the top of the heap.’

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