NEW HAVEN— At first glance, New Haven Elementary student Abbie Lieving may seem like a typical nine year old, but what she does 16 plus hours a week is nothing but atypical.
Lieving and her parents, Dr. Wes and Amanda Lieving travel to Cross Lanes four times weekly to train at Revolution Gymnastics. Gym owner and coach, Susan Brown described Abbie as one of the hardest working athletes in the gym. Brown handpicked Abbie at a very young age, based on her physical abilities and work ethic.
It was reported that Lieving is currently preparing for The WV State Gymnastics Championships on March 24 and 25 at Cabell Midland High School. This competition will host over 250 gymnasts from across the state. Lieving, who started the season as a Level six gymnast, made the jump to Level seven in January.
“Level seven is the first level in USA Gymnastics program where athletes can develop their own routines,” Brown commented. “Abbie made the jump very easily. She has done extremely well placement wise, especially on Beam and Floor.” It was reported that by the end of the competition season, Lieving will have competed throughout W.Va., Washington DC, Nashville and Knoxville, Tenn., and Cincinnati, Ohio.
In addition to the regular season meets, Lieving reportedly is training physical abilities in hopes of making USA Gymnastics’ TOPS Team. The TOPS program or Talent Opportunity Program, brings together talented gymnasts from all over the country between the ages of seven and 11. The gymnasts are tested on sheer physical abilities in events such as rope climb, vertical jump and sprinting.
“If you test in the top percentage in the country, you are invited down to Houston to train with other TOPS gymnasts at the Karolyi Ranch,” said Brown.
It was reported that the Karolyi Ranch is the National Training Center where the National, World and Olympic Team members train. The “Ranch” as it’s known in gymnastics circles, is where Mary Lou Retton and current Olympic Champion, Nastia Liukin harnessed and perfected their gymnastics skills.
Brown admits that this type of training takes a type of dedication and drive that is rare in young athletes.
“Abbie has that special something,” Brown said. “She trains just as hard when the coaches aren’t watching. That is rare.”
“I just love it,” Lieving said when asked what she loves about gymnastics. “My teammates, flipping, everything.”
It was also reported that Lieving and her parents are planning a trip to San Jose, California this summer to watch the 2012 USA Olympic Gymnastics Trials. The USA Olympic Team will be announced directly following the competition, and the 2012 Olympics will be held July 28 through August 7, in London, England.