Freshman Gymnast AJ Sandberg

Sam Thomas

Few high-school students can say that they have the responsibility of succeeding in school and staying involved in activities all while working to make the dream to appear in front of millions come true. The situation for freshman A.J. Sandberg is, who hopes to reach his goal of making it to the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, is different.

Sandberg began gymnastics at a young age and has been competing in gymnastics for seven years.  His training for competition takes place at Mini-Hops Gymnastics in Hopkins.  Sandberg has reached the status of level nine out of the ten levels that there are in gymnastics.

There are 14 other gymnasts who train along with Sandberg who have also spent countless hours practicing in the gymnasium. “I practice five times a week and four hours each time to hopefully keep improving,” said Sandberg, “every practice is really hard and long, and I always get really tired.”

In order to improve his skills, he works on every event at each practice (these events inculde floor excercises, pommel horse, still rings, parallel bars, vault, and high bar.)  “My favorite event out of all of them is the rings; I also think it’s the event that I’m best at. I really think I could work on the parallel bars.”

Sandberg has accomplished many things through gymnastics, including winning numerous competitions and even making it to the regional tournament last year. “My biggest accomplishment through gymnastics was placing second all-around at Regionals,” said Sandberg.

Even after seven years of competing, Sandberg occasionally gets nervous for his competitions.  “My biggest memory of being nervous is one time I got really sick before the competition.  I left for a while, but I came back out and ended up doing really well,” said Sandberg.  “Now I usually get nervous for the bigger competitions, like Regionals.”

Continuing to work hard in gymnastics, he also strives to maintain a social life at the same time. “It’s sometimes really hard to find a balance between gymnastics, school, and the other activities I like to do.  I have to rush home from school, get my homework done, and just go.  I also like to play tennis and go golfing, but gymnastics and school are my main priorities,” said Sandberg.

The 20 hours a week that Sandberg puts toward gymnastics brings him closer to reaching his goal of making it to the Olympics.  Seven years from now, as the 2016 Summer Olympics begin, A.J. Sandberg hopes to be marching into the opening ceremony with the U.S.A. team.