Although some people misinterpret it as just twirling ribbons, sophomore Malia Jue puts in 16 hours every week to perfect her performance in the intense sport of rhythmic gymnastics.
Jue began participating in rhythmic gymnastics nine years ago, after starting off in gymnastics. The sports are quite similar, according to Jue, but rhythmic gymnastics includes much more dance and does not have the element of bars.
Being a rhythmic gymnast takes a lot of dedication and resilience, as Jue has experienced through her many years of performing.
“It’s frustrating if you can’t get something,” Jue said. “A lot of days, I’ll have bad practices, and I’ll get mad, and [there are]injuries too. I injured my feet quite a few times and my back.”
Because this sport is not very common, Jue said people can have misconceptions about it.
“They don’t think you have to be athletic, but you do. It takes a lot of practice,” Jue said. “Sometimes I don’t tell them that it’s rhythmic gymnastics; I just say gymnastics because people underestimate it or they don’t think of it as a sport, or they think it’s a joke.”
Despite this negativity, Jue said she remains passionate about rhythmic gymnastics, constantly learning new techniques from her coach.
Diana Shaqir, Jue’s coach, has known her since she was young, although she just started coaching her last year. Shaqir has been doing rhythmic gymnastics since she was seven years old, and has been coaching the sport since 2004. “She just is a very, very genuinely hard worker,” Shaqir said, adding that Jue’s self-dedication has been an inspiring model of behavior for younger children on the team to emulate.
As Jue gets closer to graduating from high school, Shaqir said she sees a bright future for her in and outside of rhythmic gymnastics. She said that Jue’s character and work ethic will lead her to a successful life as she approaches difficult situations with positivity.
Shaqir described how Jue has always been able to overcome any setbacks that she may experience because of her passion in the sport.
“She’s definitely a hard worker with the attitude about coming in and getting anything that she can do that day without taking breaks, without complaining, without talking,” Shaqir said.
Jue has developed skills from rhythmic gymnastics that help her inside and outside the gym.
“Rhythmic gymnastics has made me a better person,” Jue said. “It’s improved how I manage my time and how I deal with situations; I’m not as nervous in front of crowds now that I have to perform.”