1. Name, Age, Hometown:
Helen Hu, 14, Chicago, Ill.
2. When and why did you first become interested in gymnastics?
My older siblings did gymnastics so I followed [in their footsteps] and took my first class at the age of 5. At first, I didn’t like it but became interested around 6 years old.
3. When did you decide you wanted to compete? And, when did you want to compete on the elite level? What about competition appeals to you?
I wanted to compete after training on Irina Kudinas’ pre-team for a few months, that’s when I found interest in the sport. I wanted to go for elite around the age of 12 but lately I’m focusing on just doing my best rather than concrete goals. I love competing because it’s always exciting and fun. Seeing other gymnasts and their unique style as well as showing off my own is what’s great. Competing also pushes me to work harder after seeing amazing gymnasts compete.
4. What is your training regimen? Was that a big change when you made the switch to competitive gymnastics?
Training is always fun and competitive, so there was never really a clear switch. Working with Irina, I always looked up to the older kids and watched their routines so there was no question whether I wanted to compete or not.
5. What is your favorite event?
Beam, it’s by far my best and favorite event. I love doing new skills and balances and handstands, everything about the event. It has always been something I loved doing, I just never get sick of it.
6. What is your favorite skill?
Not really sure, if I had to choose I guess I would say my front aerial connection. It’s the first pass in my beam routine and not only do I get four tenths bonus right away, but I think it’s really elegant…and difficult.
7. What music do you use for your floor routine?
My music is an altered version of Feeling Good by Michael Buble with no lyrics.
8. Who is your idol?
I would say my real idols aren’t any big or famous gymnasts but teammates. There are two particular teammates that I always looked up to since I started gymnastics. They’re Gabrielle Cooke and Olivia Karas. Olivia is a freshman in college, and Gabrielle is a college senior. Both of them are amazing gymnasts that have gone through tough injuries. They always inspire me and help me both as a gymnast and as a friend. They will always be role models, and I will always look up to them.
9. How has gymnastics helped you as a person?
I think gymnastics has made be tough, competitive, and compassionate. I’ve learned to get through physical and mental blocks in gymnastics and in life. I’ve learned to be competitive without being sour. I never get angry at someone who beats me but try to look up to them.
10. If you had to select one life lesson that gymnastics has taught you, what would it be?
Never give up, it’s probably the most cheesy and overused line ever but it has truth in it.
11. What grade are you in and where do you go to school?
9th grade, Latin school of Chicago.
12. Do you want to compete in collegiate gymnastics?
I think so, I’m still not completely sure but I’m leaning towards it.
13. What are your favorite subjects?
Math, it’s challenging but I enjoy it.
14. If you plan to go to college, what do you want to study there?
I have no idea.
15. What are your goals for the future, both as an athlete and after you are finished competing?
To be completely honest, I’m not sure. I guess I’m still just seeing how things turn out.
16. When you are not in the gym, how do you spend your time? Hobbies or favorite activities?
I train so many hours a week that I don’t really have hobbies. The little time I have I spend with my family and friends.
17. What is your favorite food?
I would say ramen noodles and fries.
18. Favorite movie?
I can’t choose, too many!
19. Do you have any competition rituals? Lucky charms?
Not really, but I do have a post-meet ritual. After a meet, I usually go to a steak house and have steak with fries and lemonade.
20. If you had to pick three words to describe yourself as a gymnast, what would they be?
Tough, unique, and flexible.
21. If you had to pick three words to describe yourself not as a gymnast, what would they be?
Tough, kind, and calm.