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Going for the Gold

By ELISABETH ALTAMIRANO-SMITH/ Community Columnist

Even though Verbena resident Mary Beth Hall is just 17, she already knows about set-backs, determination and perseverance.

Hall enjoys competing in gymnastics — an ambition that started at the age of three. Now going into her senior year, she is at a level 10, the highest level of gymnastic achievement before professional level.

“I’ve always loved it,” Hall said. “My mother put me in gymnastics when I was three, and it has become a large part of who I am.”

Hall practices at the Prattville YMCA five times a week and up to 30 hours a week.

Although she loves and enjoys the sport, she says that like anything, some days she does not want to practice but knows that she has to continue if she wants to go for the gold.

“I push myself to go whether I want to practice or not and usually by the time I finish I am glad that I did,” Hall said. “If I don’t go, I don’t know what to do with myself during that time.”

In January 2020, Hall tore her ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury) which left her unable to practice or participate all season.

“It was hard to see my teammates compete without me,” said Hall. “The tear and surgery kept me from having full extension of my leg, but I had knee surgery now and am better than I was before!”

The ACL tear and surgery also happened during the pandemic, which Hall said was an optimal time to rest and heal from her injury.

For the next year, Hall will be practicing to compete in the National Gymnastics Competition. Region Eight (the State of Alabama) will have to win in order to compete in the top seven regions of the United States.

“I am currently practicing my Yurenchko Full (a jumping-aerial cartwheel on the vault and landing securely on the ground) and Maloney (continuous circling over and under while grasping the bars),” Hall said.

Both exercises are practices that one could only witness at high level competition, such as the Olympics.

“Gymnastics is a physical and mental sport,” Hall said. “Like all sports, you get the physical workout but you also have to be mentally strong. You have to couch yourself on how not to get scared — to be confident to do the move and be strong.”

Mary Beth is the daughter of Kenny and Donna Hall.