Local gymnasts find inspiration in U.S. women's gymnastics team

By Marc Strauss

August 1, 2012 Updated Aug 1, 2012 at 7:33 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Some local gymnasts are performing with extra energy on Wednesday, the day after the U.S. women won their first Olympic gold medal in 16 years.

It may look like a typical day at River City Gymnastics, but it's not. It's Olympic Day, when you can pretend that you are competing in the Olympics.

"It's like when we go to competitions and stuff; it's really fun because you feel like all eyes are on you," said 13-year-old Summer Devlin.

These girls are holding their own competition. And, it's especially spirited after most of them stayed up late Tuesday night to watch the U.S. women's gymnastics team win the gold medal.

"They were talking all about it," said Brad Epperson, director of River City Gymnastics. "They're really excited. I don't think any of them were around to watch the 1996 Olympics when the women's team last won the gold. They're very excited about it. Watching the gymnasts, they all had their favorites."

And, they drew inspiration from it.

"It encouraged me to work harder so that I can be like them someday," said 12-year-old participant, Sydney Bertschy.

"I really wanted them to win because I'm a fan of all of the people on that team," said Gabi Cyr. "They all inspire me to do better and get to the Olympics."

The director of River City Gymnastics says for young athletes, the Olympics are a great motivator, and they're not bad for business either.

"Every four years our enrollment goes up," said Epperson. "They just kind of rediscover a love for gymnastics, flipping and twisting and tumbling. They just seem to kind of naturally take to it."

And, perhaps four years from now, one of them will be the girls the next generation looks up to.

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