By: Taren Vaughan
Athletics has been and probably always will be an area where African Americans are the dominant force. Of course the predictable basketball, football and track are sports that we have in the bag for the most part. And nowadays, we are trying our hand at just about everything imaginable. Thanks to Olympic gold medalist Shani Davis, blacks are being represented again in the Winter Olympic events. But who will bring up the rear when it comes to black gymnasts?
Let’s be real here. There are many young black girls out there who are very active in gymnastics at the moment. But there are not many of us who are so fascinated by bars and the beam enough to pursue a professional career in it. And for quite some time, Dominique Dawes was the only recognizable face that we saw on the television screen. Dawes is a forerunner for African American women when it comes to gymnastics. She became the first black female to win an individual medal in artistic gymnastics and was a member of the gold medal winning “Magnificent Seven” from the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. Not only was she making a name for African American women in gymnastics, she managed to rack up a number of medals while doing so. Now that Dawes has stepped away from the Olympic spotlight, a young talent by the name of Kytra Hunter is hoping to one day make a lasting impact herself.
At a very young age, Kytra Hunter became acquainted with her first loves, the bars and the balance beam and they became a huge part of her life as she got older. Over the years, she has won several state titles and has dominated multiple areas of the sport. From mastering the uneven bars to holding steady on the balance beam after a difficult stunt, you name it, this girl was done it. Hunter was a member of the 2009 U.S. National Team and was the winner of three events at the Maryland Classic that same year.
Hunter’s superb skills on the beam have earned her a full scholarship to the University of Florida. Her acceptance to UF was definitely an achievement for her but the young gymnast has her heart set on another goal. And that is making the 2010 World Team:
“Oh my God, I don’t even know what to say,” “I would be so shocked. That’s a goal that I really want to achieve.”
Her determination to make the World Team has even led her to defer her start of school to train for it. Receiving a free education is not an easy thing to come by. So for this young lady to put her college education on hold speaks volumes about how much making the team would mean to her.
With the amount of heart and drive that she displays, there is no doubt that Kytra Hunter will continue to find much success as a gymnast. Dominique Dawes has paved the way for the young black gymnasts that have come after her. Now it is time for Hunter and other African American females of the beam to pick up where she left off.