My First Challange

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We all remember at least one episode from our childhood that immediately stands out in memory, like as if it happened yesterday. I was born in the city of Odessa, a southern region of the former Soviet Union. Careless and genuinely happy, I was an ordinary bright eyed and pig tailed five year-old girl in pre- school. The memory is blurry, but I distinctly recall being taken to a room and being handed a little white envelope to give it to my parents. To everyone’s surprise it contained an invitation to the first round of selection to join the famed Red Soviet Army Gymnastics team. Next, I am standing in the large room with a few hundred children, together with their hopeful and anxious parents.

        The enormous size of the gym made a lasting impression on me, as I had never seen such a room that big. Everything about this room was new to me: uneven bars, several exercise floors, a few balance beams, trampolines, and various athletic equipment all housed on the same floor.

I look up and see athletes in various stages of training. Girls on trampolines doing flips, athletes perform on the balance beam, a large group of girls gathered around the coach listening avidly. I could hear noise everywhere, and feel the air charged with electricity. I feel both excited and scared at the same time.

        Our parents were not allowed inside the gym. As I found out later the coaches wanted to single out the kids who would start crying. Those who did where immediately rejected. The others would be fortunate enough to be considered to be selected to this very prestigious Red Army gymnastics club.

        One of the coaches approaches and asks me to climb a long rope. As I had never climbed before, my hands are burning and I restrain myself from crying. The push ups came next, Stanislava Craig Page2 followed by a hundred- meters run. I am clumsy and everyone is laughing, and very soon I am laughing with them. Finally, came the stretching exercise. As I lay down on my back, the coach pushes one leg down, while pulling the other one upwards as far as it would go. I am about to be split into two pieces. As painful as it is, I desperately hold myself not to scream. The coach notices my resilience and nods in approval. At this moment I knew I passed the final test. By the end of the day I was selected to be a junior member of the Red Army gymnastics team, at the age of five. But more importantly, for the first time in my life, I had a sense of a great achievement, which made me and my parents extremely proud. This feeling of achievement extended not only to my sports career, but also to my every day life.

        The ten years that followed my admission to the Red Army Junior Gymnastics team was filled with both tears of joy and of disappointments. I have traveled extensively throughout all of the Soviet Union Republics, Eastern and Western Europe, and have performed in tournaments in such places like Siberia and South Korea. I’ve earned my gold and silver in many Gymnastics Championships, and still cherish to this day all of my medals, which are now proudly displayed on my mom’s book shelf.

        This one day in a life of a five year old girl set a stage for future development of my character and personality. It made me more persistent and determine. I learned how to be independent and a team player, as I was traveling on competitions as early seven years old.

If I could handle the rigorous regiment of an athlete in the Red Army Gymnastics team, I could handle many challenges that my come my way.