Olivia Dunne, the 12-year-old who captured everyone’s attention with her dynamic performance on floor as the youngest competing at last year’s Secret U.S. Classic, is back and better than ever.
The New Jersey elite who trains at the Eastern National Academy of Gymnastics in Paramus with Craig and Jennifer Zappa, was slightly shy of the 52.5 qualification score for nationals at Classics in 2014, but this year she’s coming into the annual Hoffman Estates with a lot of pressure off her shoulders, having already earned her nationals score at the American Classic held at the ranch in June. With a score of 53.8, Dunne finished in 8th place, showing especially great work on beam and floor.
Olivia’s floor routine from the 2015 American Classic
Dunne’s rise in the sport has been astronomical, going from level 4 in 2010 to making her level 10 debut at Christmas on the Chesapeake in December 2012, where she placed 4th in the all-around. She set the New Jersey level 10 state record on beam with a 9.7 last year before earning her junior international elite status and a spot at the Secret U.S. Classic.
Yes, she accomplished all of this at just 11 years old, and she handled herself at her first major elite competition with the polish, experience, and maturity of a gymnast twice her age. Even a fluke fall on her switch half on beam didn’t deter her from fighting and finishing strong, something many senior elites on the international circuit still struggle with.
Olivia’s beam from the 2015 WOGA Classic elite qualifier
This year, you’ll have to pay close attention to her beam and floor. She has beautiful lines, solid skills, expert confidence, and a fantastic performance ability on both. I especially loved her unique switch leap to tour jete half series on beam at the WOGA Classic, and while her dance on floor is a highlight, she’s looking forward to sharing a big tumbling upgrade there as well.
We chatted with Olivia this weekend to see how everything’s going. Check it out below!
Now that you’re no longer a newbie in elite, what did you learn from your experience last year that will help you out this season?
Last year I was really nervous about getting my qualifying scores. This year, I’ve worked really hard on upgrades and improving my execution so I felt more confident about qualifying.
Does it feel a bit easier going into the Secret Classic without that pressure of needing to qualify? How do you feel about the upcoming meets this summer? Excited? Nervous? A little bit of both?
I feel much more excited than nervous about competing this summer. I had set a goal with my coach at the beginning of the season to qualify for nationals. Having done that already, I am just focusing on enjoying these competitions and doing my best performances.
What was going through your mind when you found out you qualified to nationals?
What is your biggest goal for this summer?
My biggest goal for summer is to execute my routines like I do in practice.
What is it like getting to train and compete at the ranch? Has Marta Karolyi ever given you any tips or advice?
Being in the developmental camps, I work more with Valeri Liuken than Marta Karolyi. He is always very good at directing me on the right path and making the necessary corrections to help me reach my goals.
What would you say your biggest strengths are as a gymnast?
My biggest strength as a gymnast is that I really love competing and working towards my goals.
Do you have any new skills you’re excited to show everyone?
I am really excited to show everyone my piked full-in on floor.
If you could compete any skill in the world what w.ould it be?
It would be so cool to compete a Komova II [inbar shaposh] on bars.
Thanks for chatting with us, Olivia! Best of luck this weekend!
Article by Lauren Hopkins