Missouri gymnastics team adds an athlete

Thursday, December 17, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The Missouri gymnastics team will add a 12th athlete to its roster after the holiday break.

Coach Rob Drass confirmed that Sandra Ostad from Oslo, Norway, will join the rest of the Tigers when they return to training on Dec. 27.

Ostad graduated from high school in June but did not commit to a college. Drass said she delayed attending college so she could compete for Norway in the World Championships during October in London.

Ostad qualified 72nd out of 80 gymnasts at the World Championships. The top 24 moved on to the finals. She competed in each of the four events for her country, which included the vault, bars, beam and floor exercise.

Drass said that information about Ostad came across his desk earlier this fall. Assistant coach John Figueroa traveled to London to watch her compete in the World Championships and talk with her and her family.

“At that point, we had some phone conversations, and it just seemed like a good fit for both sides,” Drass said. “A couple weeks later we were trying to get her through all of the hurdles (the NCAA and admissions).”

Luckily for MU, there was a scholarship available. Drass said most schools don’t have an opening in the middle of the season. He called the situation “fortuitous” that Ostad was looking for a school and Missouri had a spot available.

Ostad will be the first international student on the Missouri gymnastics team in Drass’ 11 seasons as coach. He said her international experience will be a big asset for the team.

Drass knows there will be an adjustment period for Ostad. However, when she does get acclimated to her new school and new team, Drass expects her to have an immediate impact. She is strong in all four events and brings big-competition experience with her to Columbia.

“I think that will be beneficial for her having competed on that large stage before,” Drass said. “The athletes here are excited about her coming in.”

The gymnasts currently on the team are already trying to build relationships with their new teammate from a continent away. They have reached out to Ostad through Facebook and e-mail.

“It’s going to be a tough transition and we’re going to be there for her,” freshman Lauren Swankoski said. “We’re really excited for her to come and be a part of our team.”


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