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East West Lifestyle

The Gym that Helps to Make Olympic Dreams Come True

June 02, 2016

World Elite Gym cultivates young gymnasts and turns them into world-class athletes.

They start as young as 4 years old. Girls and boys, with boundless energy and a new sense of independence, take their first tumble and cartwheel. Some of these kids get serious about training over the years and grow up to compete at the highest level.

Charlotte Drury, a trampoline athlete, says her mother enrolled her in gymnastics to help channel her daredevil energy. Drury enrolled in the trampoline program at World Elite Gymnastics in Rancho Santa Margarita.

“The higher I jump, the more comfortable I feel,” Drury says.

At the elite level, trampoline athletes jump more than 30 feet into the air doing somersaults with twists all connected together, and they have to land at a perfect angle so they can immediately launch into the next bounce.

“Trampoline Gymnastics has the intricacy of diving, but with the challenge of landing and doing ten skills in a row without repeating. It has the pressure of artistic gymnastics, but even more stressful is the fact that if an athlete falls in trampoline the routine is over at that point and there is no option to continue,” according to George Drew, president of the trampoline program for USA Gymnastics, the national governing body for gymnastics.

Trampoline did not become an official Olympic sport until 2000, and many countries only recently began developing elite training programs. The U.S. expects to have a strong showing in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio.

“Increased international competitions, increased expectations of the National Coaching Staff and focus on USA success at World Championships in the team event has improved our standing in the international community of trampoline and tumbling gymnastics… This growth and improvement in depth should result in the USA’s finest Olympic performance,” Drew says.

Trampoline gymnast Charlotte Drury gears up for a day of Olympic training
The higher I jump, the more comfortable I feel.
" The higher I jump, the more comfortable I feel."

- Charlotte Drury

Now 19, Drury became the first American woman to win a gold medal in trampoline at a World Cup competition in 2014, and was crowned national champion at the USA Gymnastics Championships that same year. She qualified the U.S. team for a spot in Rio this spring but was sidelined by an injury in June.

The saving grace came when her fellow World Elite teammate, Logan Dooley, who started trampoline when he was seven, clinched the single men’s spot to compete with Team USA.

“To be on this Olympic quest for so long and to be the Olympic alternate, TWICE, truly makes this moment a dream come true,” Dooley says on his Facebook page.

“All the team members are very excited about Logan’s going to the Olympics. In the beginning, they were so sorry about Charlotte’s injury, and then Logan brought the hope back to the team again,” says Linxian Guo, the owner of World Elite.

The coaches and owners at World Elite include a lineup of world class athletes. Coach Peter Dodd is a six time U.S. National Gymnastics Team member. The husband and wife owners — Guo and Huiying “Ying Ying” Wang — were both members of the Chinese team at the 1988 Olympics.

Huiying Wang and Linxian Guo are the owners of World Elite Gymnastics in Rancho Santa Margarita.
Huiying Wang and Linxian Guo are the owners of World Elite Gymnastics in Rancho Santa Margarita.
" American kids have a very positive attitude… they completely reflect the Olympic spirit of participation."

- Linxian Guo

In addition, Guo’s father, mother, brother, and sister have also won medals at the Asia Games, World Gymnastics Championships and the Olympics. The family saw the opportunity to put their collective experience to use and teach kids in the United States.

“American kids have a very positive attitude,” Guo says. “Right after school, their parents send them here for training and they are very self-motivated. They completely reflect the Olympic spirit of participation.”

“They’re very happy every day, and they grew up, keep going to learn more skills here,” Wang says. She brings some of the flair of the Chinese style of gymnastics into the training of American kids.

“The Chinese athletes always have beautiful toes and body positions... I always say to the kids here, when you jump on the beam, or on the floor, always try to split your legs 180 degrees, that’s the best,” Wang says.

The first location was so successful that other members of the Guo family decided to expand the business and open up a second location in Ontario, Calif. using a line of credit from East West Bank, which helped them to purchase equipment and pay rent on the new gym. Now collectively the Guos are coaching more than 600 kids between the two gyms.

Young aspiring gymnasts train at the World Elite Gymnastics
Between two World Elite Gymnastics locations, the Guo family trains over 600 aspiring gymnasts.

The World Elite family is rallying around Dooley as he heads to Rio.

“These kids understand that this is the charm of sports – you find happiness from success, and you also learn persistence from failure,” says Guo. “Logan has been with the gym for almost 20 years and a lot of things have happened during this period of time. He didn’t give up his passion due to any obstacle he had encountered. Finally he succeeded!”

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