Jim Perry thought gymnastics was a sport for "sissies."
Kyly Perry, a sixth-grader at Lakeside Middle school is in the Athlete Spotlight.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
He was fairly surprised when his then 7-year-old son, Kyle, said he wanted to get into the sport after seeing men's gymnastics on television during the 2000 Summer Olympics.
"I thought we would let him try it out," Jim said. "I didn't really think he would stick with it."
Not only has Kyle, now 11, stuck with it, but he also is a national champion.
"Gymnastics is a lot of fun," he says. "It is different than the other sports. You get a chance to show everyone how hard you work."
The Lakeside Middle student won gold medals in the still rings and floor exercise at the Amateur Athletic Union Nationals earlier this year.
"It was exciting to win," said Kyle, who has won more than 100 medals competitively.
Jim has now reversed course from his preconceived notion of gymnastics.
"Gymnasts are the most athletic kids I've ever seen," he said. "Their training is grueling. Now I can brag and be proud of him. It is kind of funny how that worked out."
Jim says Kyle's workout regimen is especially tough.
The 11-year-old works out 16 hours a week, in addition to being a member of the middle school band.
"Homework was a big adjustment for him," Jim said. "He didn't have that in elementary school so that was a little rough at first."
Also taxing is the amount of travel and costs involved.
"Travel is the hardest and most expensive part," Jim said. "But it is Kyle's favorite part. He has been to 11 states and 29 Hooters restaurants."
Most of Kyle's friends think his gymnastic achievements are "cool" but the sixth-grader won't brag about himself.
"He's not the kind of kid to brag on himself," Jim said. "He's real proud of his abilities and he loves the competition."
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