Kiana Eide is a teeny bopper with a golden twist. Before starting school in Spring Lake Park this fall, the 13-year old took a quick trip to Argentina where she competed as part of Team USA in the 2012 Pan Am Jr. Championships.
But Team USA didn’t just compete – the girls came home with three gold medals in the rhythmic gymnastics competition, sweeping the all-around competition and bringing home gold in the group rope routine and the group ball routine.
“Competing for Team USA at the 2012 Jr. Pan American Championships has been the highlight of my career so far,” said Kiana, who lives in St. Francis but attends school in Spring Lake Park, which is a lot closer to the training gym where she spends nearly eight hours each day stretching, training and perfecting her routines at Twin Cities Rhythmic Gymnastics in Fridley.
Kiana’s ambitions extend to the 2016 Olympic games, when she dreams of competing in group routines or as an individual.
Of course, in the four years preceding those games, Kiana intends to continue diligent training and routinely compete internationally.
“There are many other international competitions I would like to compete in before the next Olympics in 2016,” Kiana said, acknowledging that in order to do so, she will end up missing a lot more school.
“But I still have a great GPA so far… I have been an honor student always so far,” the gymnast said, knocking on wood.
The Pan Am Jr. Champion first tumbled on to the gymnastics floor at the age of four years old.
As a preschooler, Kiana did some simple tumbling classes with her sister, Celine. The two were also involved in dance classes and when Kiana saw the two skills combined in a rhythmic gymnastics routine, she was enthralled.
“(I was) so amazed with the beauty of the gymnastic and dance combination,” Kiana said.
Soon after, she began taking lessons, devoting 25 hours per week to learning and practicing her newfound skills.
As she grew and developed, so did her rhythmic gymnastics skills – and so did her devotion to the sport.
“Before any major competition now, we (Team USA) practice over 40 hours a week when school is out. During school, I begin practice from 4 to 8 p.m. during the weekdays and sometimes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends,” Kiana said, describing the time and energy she devotes to her athletic passion.
Kiana’s teammates for the Pan Am Jr. Championship competition included Liza Kourdaev of Maple Grove, Sophia Popova of Plymouth, Allyson Roytburd and Tamara Iliyev of New York, and Nicole Sladkov of Illinois.
The girls were the only United States team to compete at the international contest.
To learn more about the USA rhythmic gymnastics team, visit www.usagym.org.
Sue Austreng is at [email protected]