Sixteen-year-old world-champion gymnast Jordyn Wieber views herself as a normal teenager. Known for her fighting spirit and fierce work ethic, the young phemon is anything but average. She's vying for a spot on Team USA this weekend at the U.S. Olympic Trials in San Jose, Calif. How does Wieber survive pressure that has the potential to be all-consuming? According to her mom, it's all about laughter.
"I always think about Jordyn up on a beam with cameras in her face and 12,000 people watching, and knowing she's on live television," says Rita Wieber. "And then at that moment, we want you to do your very best beam routine ever."
Photos: Jordyn Wieber in action
The teenager doesn't expect anything less of herself, either. She's been a gymnast since she was a young child. Her mom recalls watching her daughter as a toddler standing on her dressing table on one leg while her parents dressed her. Her balance seemed a natural fit for the gym. And when she was 10, she wanted to try elite gymnastics.
Says Rita Wieber: "We did notice that Jordyn had kind of an unusual intensity about her or an ability to focus at a very young age. Parenting Jordyn was sometimes a little bit of a challenge because of her intensity. She just put so much pressure on herself."
"I'm kind of a perfectionist," concedes Jordyn Wieber. "I want to go to the gym, I want to practice hard every single day. It's just always been a part of my personality."
And right now, her perfectionist tendencies are working for her. In March, she won her third American Cup and is the reigning world champ. Naturally, she's a top contender for one of five spots on Team USA. "Jordyn has shown amazing consistency," says U.S. gold medal gymnast and Yahoo! Sports commentator Shannon Miller. "She just wins meet after meet after meet. Even when she does have a minor mistake, she's such a fighter, she fights for those tenths of points."
Rita Wieber knows that in order for her daughter to succeed in her dream to compete at the 2012 London Games, she needs to stay balanced. Laughter helps. "We try to use a lot of humor in every situation because that's how you get through life," she says. "Making an Olympic team for every gymnast is probably their ultimate goal. And the hard reality is five girls will make the Olympic team every four years. It seems so impossible. But I think sports plays a huge role in the development in children. Those guts, and the ability to perform under pressure like that will carry them through in anything they do."
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