Gymnast devoted to sport

Saturday, August 2, 2008 | 9:46 p.m. CDT; updated 3:01 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 4, 2010

COLUMBIA — Breanna Dumbacher strikes a pose and waits for the music to start. When "Roxie's Suite" from the movie Chicago begins to play through the speakers, she performs a choreographed floor routine featuring jumps, twists, turns and tumbling passes.

Her leotard shimmers with each movement, constantly changing colors from teal to gold depending on the way the lights hit it. A handmade sign hangs from the front-row railing with "Good Luck Brea, You Rock" written in colorful letters.

When she finishes her routine, her teammates and coaches shower her with high-fives and hugs.

Dumbacher trains at Flipz USA Gymnastics in Columbia, where in the summer she spends four hours a day, four days a week in the gym. Because her mother is a gymnastics coach and judge, the 16-year-old said she has been involved in the sport since before her first birthday.

"I would go to parent/tot classes, and I basically grew up in the gym because my mom was always coaching," Dumbacher said. "It's like my second home."

Her competitive gymnastics season runs from November to March each year, culminating with the USA Gymnastics state meet.

Gymnasts usually have the summers off from competing, but about 80 girls participated in the Show-Me State Games' gymnastics competition Saturday morning at Hearnes Center. Events included the uneven bars, balance beam, vault and floor exercise.

Dumbacher competed in all four events, displaying skills ranging from level 8 to level 9 in difficulty. She earned a 9.25 on the balance beam after successfully landing a back-handspring, an accomplishment she couldn't have been more excited about.

"I've been working on that for four years, and today was the first day I did it by myself," she said. "It felt really good!"

There were three gymnasts in her age group, and Dumbacher finished first in the balance beam and second all-around after the scores from all the events were totaled.

She said she enjoys gymnastics because of how challenging it can be.

"You have to be really focused and determined. It takes a lot of your time, so you have to really want to do it," she said. "I like the challenges, and I like the things that I'm not very good at. Because when you finally get them, it all pays off."

Besides gymnastics, Dumbacher is also a competitive dancer, so she splits time between the two. Flipz USA Gymnastics Owner Zina Fudge said dancing sometimes leaves Dumbacher with limited time in the gym, but it has helped her excel in the dance elements portion of the floor exercise.

"She's a really hard worker," said Fudge, who also served as the commissioner for the state games' gymnastics competition. "She's come a long way in the last two years by improving on her difficulty."

Dumbacher said a defining moment in gymnastics for her was when she received her highest score of 9.5 while competing at a level 5 meet at the age of 10.

"I think having that happen at a young age let me know I can do this," she said. "I'm not the most talented gymnast, but I know how to work hard and push myself to be better."


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