Olivia "Storm" Kelly on path to become first Barbadian Olympic gymnast

By June 09, 2023
Barbadian gymnast Olivia "Storm" Kelly Barbadian gymnast Olivia "Storm" Kelly contributed

Don't wish for it. Work for it.

That is the motto that United States-born Barbadian gymnast Olivia Kelly lives by, as she has always been motivated to turn her thoughts into actions.

In fact, at 17 years old, Kelly has her eyes set on accomplishing a goal which, if successful, will propel her budding career to higher heights. The goal? To be the first gymnast to represent the Eastern Caribbean Island at the Olympic Games.

Achieving such a dream is by no means impossible and Kelly, also known as "Storm," in gymnastics circles, positioned herself to bring it to fruition when she placed 10th at the PanAm Gymnastics Championships in Medellin, Colombia recently, and earned a spot to the World Gymnastics Championships for a second year consecutively.

The championships scheduled to begin late September in Antwerp, Belgium, serves an Olympic qualifier and, as such, Kelly is focused on ensuring her performance quality and the details of her routine are on point, while staying physically and mentally healthy.

"I’m not really aiming to do anything much different other than to stay healthy and keep training hard. My goals this year were always to just train hard, trust my training at Worlds, and hopefully qualify for the 2024 Olympics," Kelly, who has a number of first for Barbados, declared.

"I've devoted a lot to this sport and so I always want to be competitive, but my best is all I can do and if I do that, I will always be satisfied," she added.

At the PanAm Championships, Kelly, who earns her Barbadian stripes through her father, Tori, scored 12.867 for her vault routine, 11.867 on uneven bars, 12.267 on the balance beam and 12.467 for her floor routine, for an All-Around total of 49.468.

"Colombia, was so much fun and I’m very pleased with the performance. I definitely feel like I can work on little things for Worlds, but I think this was a great meet for me," Kelly noted.

That performance, she said, was a reflection of the lessons learnt from last when she made her debut appearance on the international stage.

"I gained a lot of experience from last year which was a learning year for me in the international field. At both the Pan American Championship in Rio and the World Championships in Liverpool, I fell on bars, but even then, I still had a great experience. So, coming into this year, I felt way more prepared and confident because of my 2022 season. 

"That season taught me that I can be resilient and bounce back in the next event. I’ve learned that I can push that negative energy back and really focus on what’s happening now instead of the past," Kelly reasoned.

While she is clearly identified as one of, if not the best young gymnast for her country, Kelly, who got involved with the sport at two years old, when she took tumbling and mommy-and-me classes, knows she still has some ways to go.

As such, the North Stars Gymnastics Academy stalwart, guided by coach Ashley Umberger, a former member of the United States senior international gymnastics team, is determined to continue working over 30 hours per week to improve physically and mentally challenges to realize her dream.

"The aim is always to be better than you were before. So, I am going to add some skills for Worlds and clean up my routines, as well as build up my mental toughness and my confidence a little bit more," Kelly, who is homeschooled with Florida Virtual Global School, ended.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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