As a youngster, Dillon Smith learned the basics of gymnastics by participating in a mobile bus program. A few years later, Smith expressed an interest in going to the gym to continue his training. Twelve years later, Smith is preparing for state competition.
"I was meant to do it," said the freshman, who has been a pupil at Gymnastics Gold in Martinez since he was 2. "I love the sport. It's the only thing I've done. It's fun."
Jim Mousseau, owner of Gymnastics Gold, coached Smith when he first started taking gymnastics and it's clear that he is proud of how far his pupil has come.
"In the last few years, he has taken off and excelled in the men's program under the direction of his current coach, Deryl White," Mousseau said.
"Gymnastics is a good sport when you're his age. It broadens the shoulders and deepens the chest."
The son of Bobby and Karen Smith of Augusta, Smith, an A/B honor student at Westside High School, will attend state competitions this weekend and hopes to earn a spot on the Georgia team for regional competitions in Mississippi in early April.
"He has a real good possibility of going to regionals on the state team," Mousseau said. "He has a good attitude and he's a hard driver."
Before making it to regional competition, Smith must first place in the top three among nearly 20 contenders at this weekend's state contest. He will compete in six events: rings, pommel horse, floor, high bar, parallel bars and vault.
"Rings is probably my favorite," said Smith, who placed first on rings in the 2001 nationals competition and first on rings and vault at a local meet two weeks ago. "It's just really fun for me. I have really good upper body strength."
At 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, Smith at one time contemplated quitting gymnastics because his body was growing faster than his muscles.
"He couldn't do a lot of the stuff because his muscles couldn't keep up," said his father. "When he hit puberty, his muscles eventually caught up to his height. Once he started competition and reached some of his goals, it built up his self-confidence."
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