BEAVERCREEK — Courtney Kupets is an Olympic medalist. But she isn’t perfect.
That was just part of the message Kupets, a bronze medalist in the individual uneven bars competition at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, had hoped to pass along to nearly 50 inspiring young gymnasts Tuesday at the Gymquest Sports Academy.
“There might be a day where they’re having a hard time, and I come in to let them know ‘Look, I was just like you.’ I had problems, I had fears, but I just battled through it. I love the sport. I think for them to hear that, from someone who went to the Olympics … they probably think we are perfect, and that we never struggled. And I come to let them know that that’s not the case,” Kupets said.
The two-time national champion will be on hand to encourage the academy’s competitive gymnasts, ranging in age from 5-18, during the inaugural Olympic FUNdamentals camp from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Friday.
“I come in and I try to help them with their every day gymnastics,” Kupets said. “I like to think that you can have long-term goals. So if the Olympics is something they’d want to do, that’s great. But I think there are so many other things that they need to learn before that. The little basic techniques on certain skills … Sometimes it’s just about motivation.”
Kupets was a member of four NCAA team championships while at the University of Georgia. She is the only NCAA gymnast to win the All-Around title and every individual event, and has nine individual NCAA titles to her credit. But she always had those tough days that every competitive athlete goes through. She said she used them as motivation.
“You knew after those hard, tough days that it would get easier,” she said. “That’s when it got better. On those days when you didn’t want to go to the gym, and it would help you get better. But it also made those good days that much better. If you always have good days, I don’t think you appreciate the sport as much.”
Kupets said she’s been attending gymnastics camps for the past nine years, and never fails to get a thrill out of being able to offer advice to a young gymnast. She likes seeing them progress throughout the week.
On Tuesday, she offered Aly Haas a posture tip for doing a back flip. She suggested Haas tuck in her midsection, and straighten her knees a bit more before the back flip attempt, and soon Haas was flipping with consistency.
The moment of success brought a smile to Kupets’ face. Gymquest owner Deb Wright was smiling too.
“It’s such an honor to have her here. It’s awesome, actually,” Wright said. “It took a lot of work to get an Olympic athlete here, because their summers fill up so fast, and they’re traveling all over the United States doing camps like these. The girls and our coaches are all very excited. It really is an honor.”
When she’s not helping out future Olympians at summer camps, Kupets said she’s home with her husband in Las Vegas working on a Cirque du Soleil-style show called “Le Reve - The Dream,” at the Wynn Theater.
Gymquest after-school program to start this Fall — Gymquest Academy will be offering an After School program for area kids in grades kindergarten through 8, from 2:30-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, starting this fall. Children will exercise for 20-30 minutes each day, depending upon their arrival time, enjoy a snack, and then work on any assigned homework they may have received from their school. Cost is $75 per week with a 10-percent discount on the second sibling child. For more information, visit gymquestsports.com or call 937-426-3547.