New Elite Marissa Oakley Preps for P&Gs

Photo thanks to Marissa Oakley on Instagram

Marissa Oakley of Phenom Gymnastics is known as “O” to her teammates and coaches. The 15-year-old is beginning her elite career a little later than most, but looked every bit as seasoned and professional as the girls who have been doing it for years, ending her day at the 2014 Secret U.S. Classic 11th in the all-around and 8th on beam.

Her competitive ability should come as no surprise – she has been competing in the J.O. system since 2006 and has been competing as a level 10 gymnast since 2010, making trips to J.O. nationals annually since 2011. Marissa made an attempt at an elite career last year, but was held back by injury.

She had no trouble earning her qualifying score at the SCEGA elite qualifier this year, though, earning a 54.1 – huge for a first outing! Though she struggled on bars at the American Classic, she still managed to finish 8th overall, took home the silver medal on beam, and qualified straight to the P&G Championships. At Classics, she added 0.5 to her all-around score for a solid 54.6.

As a new elite, Marissa is still working on adding difficulty, but her execution is very strong and she already has some incredibly impressive skills – like a double double dismount off bars, the only one competed in the U.S. She displays a lovely bar swing, great fluidity on beam (especially in her flight series), and a knack for movement on floor.

The Gymternet talked to Phenom coach Jessica Holtz about how Marissa’s dedication, love for gymnastics, trust in her coaches, and strong support system all help make her elite dream a reality:

“She is by far the hardest-working gymnast I have coached in the last 20 years. She is a gymnast every coach would be happy to have on their team and not because of her talent or success. She gives 110% every day as she steps foot into the gym. She is incredibly focused, driven, and just LOVES to work hard. While elite is demanding in terms of time, repetitions, perfection, concentration, and dedication to taking care of your body and mind 24/7, she looks like she is having fun and enjoying herself each day at practice.

In addition, the secret to her success is her parent support and trust in us as her coaches. Her parents love and care for her, and do not put any pressure on her…which is rare. In addition, she and her parents have supported every decision we as coaches have made with and for her, which makes this elite dream so much easier and more enjoyable. She may be quiet and unassuming, but her gymnastics is great and mighty!”

Photo thanks to USA Gymnastics

We also chatted to Marissa, who took some time from her busy training schedule to answer some questions.

How was your experience at the Secret U.S. Classic? What was the highlight of your day?

I had an amazing experience. I really enjoyed getting the experience to compete on a podium and seeing all of my friends from training camps. The highlight of my day was hitting my bar routine, because I have worked really hard to put that routine together cleanly.

What is the biggest thing you’ve been working on since then?

I’ve been working really hard on cleaning up the little details in my routines to help with my execution.

Your double double bars dismount caught everyone’s eye! How long did it take you to add that into your routine?

I’ve had the dismount by itself for a long time, but it took me a very long time to get it into my routine, because I had troubles landing it due to my lack of endurance at the end of the routine.

What is the skill you’ve had the most trouble with? What came easiest? Do you have a dream skill you’d like to compete?

My double double on bars was hard for me to get because I always got lost at first and I had trouble with making it at the end of my routine because of endurance. The skills that came easiest were my front and side aerials on beam. A dream skill that I really want to compete soon is a Yurchenko double full.

You’ve been a level 10 since 2010 but this is the first time we’ve seen you in elite. When did you decide to try it out? Why did it appeal to you?

It has always been a goal of mine to be an elite. I tried to qualify last year but couldn’t because of injuries, so that made it even more special this year. It appealed to me because I have always looked up to all of the elite gymnasts, and I loved the idea of a new challenge.

We saw that you already achieved one of the biggest goals for L10 gymnasts – a college scholarship to a top school! Congrats! What did you like best about Georgia?

I am so excited to go to Georgia, and I honestly love everything about it! If I had to choose one thing, i would say the team spirit and the bond that all of the girls and coaches have. They have all already made me feel so welcome.

Photo thanks to Marissa Oakley on Instagram

What are your biggest goals for the P&G Championships this week? What about your goals for elite competition?

My goals for Championships are to just go out there and hit my routines as cleanly as possible. My goals for elite are to make the national team and compete internationally.

What would you say are your biggest strengths and weaknesses in the gym or when competing?

I would say one of my biggest strengths is my work ethic. My biggest weakness in the past, especially when moving into elite, has been my confidence, but I have been working hard to improve that.

What was the biggest thing you had to adjust to when moving between L10 and elite?

My biggest adjustment was building up the endurance needed for the longer and harder elite routines.

If you could change one rule in the elite code of points, what would it be?

It’s not actually part of the code of points but I think they should change the two athletes per country rule for all-around and event finals.

Photo thanks to USA Gymnastics

A big thank you to Marissa and Jessica for their time, and best of luck in training and at Championships!

We think Marissa definitely has a shot at making the national team this year if she hits consistently in Pittsburgh, and can’t wait to see how she does at her U.S. national championship debut.

Article by Lauren Hopkins
Thank you to Marissa Oakley and Jessica Holtz!

3 thoughts on “New Elite Marissa Oakley Preps for P&Gs

  1. Pingback: 2015 secret classic, first year seniorsbaili | illusion turns

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