San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Tico Gymnast: Giving Up Is Not an Option

In the earlier stages of my childhood, my main hobbies consisted of climbing trees and swinging from anything I could. So much so, my parents found it more than fit to put me into gymnastics.

I remember thinking this was the coolest thing and dreaming of being able to do the things the older athletes were doing.

Twelve years later, I now find myself spending many hours every day doing what I love. However, it wasn’t always rainbows and sunshine. There have been many moments when I’ve simply wanted to quit. It bothered me that while my friends were out playing or going to the beach, I had to go to the gym. But my whole family and my incredible coach, Carlos Carbonel, were always there, cheering me on and giving me encouragement to continue. Bottom line, giving up was not an option.

The result of these long years of training is having the opportunity to compete across the globe. Last year, I had the opportunity to travel to Switzerland and compete in one of Europe’s most important competitions. I also had the opportunity to travel to a number of other countries.

One of the coolest opportunities in 2009 was to work out at one of the best colleges in gymnastics, StanfordUniversity (in the United States). To see and talk to the Stanford team was totally amazing, and it motivated me to work harder to achieve my goal that one day I could be part of a college team.

On Jan. 25, I participated in Costa Rica’s National Games, held in Alajuela (northwest of San José), and won the all-around gold medal in level FIG junior B, which is the maximum level for my age. What is the all-around event? This is when we compete in six different events: high bar, pommel horse, floor exercise, vault, even parallel bars and rings. The judges add up the scores and whoever has the highest cumulative points wins the gold medal. I did it!

Where do I go from here? I still have a long way to go if I want to compete in competitions such as the world championships, but I’m committed and feel really positive.

This year, I have a very busy schedule. I will be traveling to Australia, Portugal, Guatemala and the Pan-American Games in Brazil, representing Costa Rica. Balancing my gymnastics with school is not easy. But, if you really want something, you have to know how to sacrifice and work hard. I plan to do both.


Vincent Washburn, 16, was born and raised in Costa Rica. He attends LincolnHigh School in Santo Domingo de Heredia, north of San José.

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