Saratoga gymnast named national champion

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A gymnast from Saratoga can now call herself a national champion.

Ava Dallas made a name for herself at the YMCA National Gymnastics Championship in Kansas over the weekend. She captured the All-Around title for her level and division.

The 12 year old also placed first in the floor exercise and the vault. But it turns out, her wins have been an unlikely journey.

Ava’s interest in gymnastics sparked while watching the Olympics.

“I was doing gymnastics around the house and stuff, so I decided to come do classes here,” she said.

And it was at there at the YMCA that she discovered she could excel in the sport.

“A lot of girls start at the developmental team level, and she jumped right in to Level III competition, so it was very quick,” Coach Kim Hewitt said. “Her start was quick.”

Hewitt noticed Ava’s gift.

“She’s very graceful, which is definitely something that came naturally to her,” Hewitt said. “She has great flexibility, great strength.”

That’s when Ava’s coaches asked her to be a part of the team.

“It really took to her being asked to be on the team that she embraced it,” Melanie Dallas said. “She took it very seriously.”

“She works really hard,” Hewitt said. “She’s here every day giving 110 percent effort.”

Ava tops off her hard work with the ability to stay cool under pressure.

“She just gets out there and acts fearless, like she doesn’t know that she’s nervous,” Melanie said. “She could be inside, but she gets out there and she nails it.”

“I just think of my idol Gabby Douglass and how she knew that gymnastics was what she wanted to do, so she pulled through the hard times just because she’s so passionate,” Ava said.

Ava’s passion for the sport also shows through. She got a late start. This is only her second year of competitive gymnastics. But she’s made up for lost time.

In nine of the 10 competitions she entered this year, it culminated over the weekend with a national championship.

“I was so happy that I did it,” she said. “I pulled through. The whole time that I’ve been doing gymnastics this year I’ve been looking forward to that. I knew my parents would be so proud of me, and I was also happy with my teammates beside me second and third. I was really happy for them.”

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