National Gymnastics Day was September 15th. To celebrate, Realtor Jennell Alexander visited Silver Stars Gymnastics to speak with Changa Anderson II, a DC native and Olympic Trampoline hopeful. Jennell chatted with Changa and his family and learned how his international success has had a positive impact on the local community.
An Intrepid Infant
Changa’s gymnastics journey began before he could even talk. His parents, Changa and Angela Anderson, learned about his acrobatic talents the day he flipped himself out of his crib as a baby. They knew they had to find an outlet for his athletic abilities. Angela enrolled her son in Mommy & Me tumbling classes at Silver Stars Gymnastics in Silver Spring, MD. But it wasn’t long before Changa got kicked out of the class. Why? Because he was way too advanced for the other children.
Changa was born with great athleticism. As a young athlete around four or five-years old, he was in here flipping and doing multiple back handsprings. Over the years, him being consistent and pushing himself through adversity and injuries has showed me a lot about him as a person. He’s showed me how tough he is, how much he loves the sport and how driven he is to accomplish his goals and dreams.
Here are USA Gymnastics’ descriptions of the events Changa competes in:
Athletes perform combinations of difficult skills while jumping on a competition trampoline. Modern trampolines can propel trained athletes as high as 30 feet in the air during performances (that’s three times as high as a basketball rim!) During two competitive routines of 10 skills each, upper-level athletes can easily demonstrate a graceful array of double, triple and twisting somersaults.
Double mini is a relatively new sport that combines the horizontal run of tumbling with the vertical rebound of trampoline. After a short run, the athlete jumps onto a small two-level trampoline to perform a rebounding trick immediately followed by a dismount element onto a landing mat. Double mini is similar in concept to springboard diving, using a mat instead of water.
Watching him during practice, it is easy to see Changa express his love for the trampoline. He says, “My favorite part is flipping in the air. It just feels amazing being in the air for such a long time.”
Jumpin’ All Over the World
Changa’s hard work and dedication has helped him rise to the top of the sport in his age bracket. Last year, he traveled to Bulgaria and Russia for international competitions, where he earned a silver medal for his age group. He is also the reigning USA Gymnastics National Champion in the Trampoline event.
That success has led to more opportunity. In October, he travels to Spain to compete in the FIG Trampoline World Cup Competition in Ciudad de Valladolid. And in December he flies all the way to Tokyo, Japan for the 27th FIG Trampoline World Age Group Competitions. At 15, Changa is two age groups below the Olympic level. His ultimate goal is to win a World Championship and represent the United States at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Changa’s achievements have an impact far beyond the walls of the gymnasium. His mother is pleased that he can serve as a role model for other DC youth, especially young men of color. Every broken barrier and smashed stereotype open a door for a child behind him. She says:
I like the fact that our son is put in a position to say, ‘It’s not always what you think it should be’. Think outside of the box. It is okay to try something new, to love it, to follow it, because it can pay off. Making it to the 2024 Paris Olympics, whether he places or not, would be an accomplishment.
Outside of being an athlete, Changa focuses on being a well-rounded person. He participates in community service projects year-round and is an excellent student. He is also a thoughtful and caring big brother to two younger siblings.
How We Can Help
Changa’s success has brought pride to his family, the DC community and the entire country. Competing in gymnastics and traveling internationally is an expensive proposition. The cost for hundreds of hours of gym time, coaching and travel add up quickly. And like for most Olympic hopefuls, there is little to no government support.
His family has been fundraising consistently. Angela says It’s going to cost between $7,000 and $9,000 to get him to both Spain and Tokyo this year. So, in addition to the well-wishes, “good lucks” and prayers, they would truly appreciate monetary contributions, both big and small. Visit their GoFundMe page to learn more about his upcoming trips and make a donation.
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