IRMO, SC (WIS) - Ashley Locker and Maddy Reid may be tiny, but they can do things professional athletes four times their size probably cannot.
The Chapin-area gymnasts are among 100 nationwide invited to the National Olympic Gymnastics Training Center in Houston, TX next month to compete in the USA Gymnastics National Talent Opportunity Program. The competition is a talent search and education program for young gymnasts where they will train with top athletes and Olympic coaches.
"It feels really good," Locker, 8, said. "I feel like I can do it and do all my skills."
"It feels amazing," Reid, 10, said. "Because when you come into this competition, there's elites and homeschool robots and I'm not one of those people and I feel like I had to work a lot harder to get here."
What Reid means is they are competing against kids who have more time to train every day because they don't attend school full-time.
Both girls attend Lake Murray Elementary School. They have been involved in gymnastics since they were three years old. They train as much as 25 hours a week at Lake Murray Gymnastics under head coach Abby Reid, who is Maddy's mother.
"Some of the things they do, when they say you can compare it to the Navy Seals, it is incredibly difficult some of the activities that they have to compete in," she said.
In addition to gymnastics skills, the girls' athleticism is tested by running and climbing up a rope using only their arms, keeping their legs straight, even, and at a higher angle than horizontal to the floor.
"The things that I ask her to do as a coach are incredible and she does it without even blinking," Reid said of her daughter. "I think some of the conditioning things I ask her to do are crazy and she takes it and does and doesn't complain about it."
"I'm looking forward to meeting new friends and seeing all the Olympic coaches and seeing if I know anybody there," Maddy said.
As for Ashley's goals: "Doing really good and not falling on anything."
When asked about why they like gymnastics, "My favorite thing is seeing ally my friends and working hard," Ashley said.
"I like best about gymnastics is meeting new friends when they come in," said Maddy. She says there are pros and cons to having her mother as her coach.
"Sometimes its good because when you need a hug or just a good job you can get it from your mom and sometimes its not so great because when you haven't had a good practice you go home with it."