Inside look on a retiring teen gymnast

Alexa Keane, Reporter

Not many people can claim the title of retired before becoming a legal adult. When most think of retirement, they think of old age, aches, and pain. My personal experience with retirement has been quite the opposite. I never thought much of my title until I mentioned my upcoming retirement to a friend from school. She immediately asked if she could throw me a retirement party. This celebration is actually taking place and only one week before my eighteenth birthday.

Finishing gymnastics is referred to as retirement, because competing in gymnastics is referred to as a career.
The reason that there are so many early retirees in gymnastics is because of the body type that flourishes in the sport. Number one requirement: short (and if you’re under 5’, even better.) Number two requirement: fearless. Add these factors up and you get a 9-year-old who will flip on command, no matter how loud her parents gasp from the spectators’ area. She doesn’t think about the risks, she thinks about how much fun she’s having trying. These types tend to move up through the levels quickly, and for the most part, will either get injured or burn out. As gymnastics becomes more difficult, older gymnasts (old meaning 15+) are harder to find.

Transitioning from my gymnastics career into a life sans flips has been quite the experience, to say the least. For the first time in years, I finally have time to scrapbook and spend time with the grandkids. All jokes aside, the absence of practices has really increased my free time, as well as time to think about how injury karma will inevitably come after me, seeing as I risked my life for eleven years and escaped reasonably healthy. Currently, I have a perpetual fear common to many retirees: a broken hip.

To wrap up, a message to my upcoming retirees – enjoy your pre-retirement years while they last. Retiring from something you love, whether it’s a sport or a job, changes you. It’s a change that makes you let go of the past and finally figure out who you are without something that has defined the very essence of you for so long.