Gymnasts Nelson, Pickering head to US Junior Olympic Nationals - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Gymnasts Nelson, Pickering head to US Junior Olympic Nationals

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Chloe Nelson of Warrior Gymnastics in Oak Grove will compete at the US Junior Olympic Nationals in Hampton, Va. Chloe Nelson of Warrior Gymnastics in Oak Grove will compete at the US Junior Olympic Nationals in Hampton, Va.
Olivia Pickering of Warrior Gymnastics in Oak Grove will compete at the US Junior Olympic Nationals in Washington D.C. Olivia Pickering of Warrior Gymnastics in Oak Grove will compete at the US Junior Olympic Nationals in Washington D.C.
HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

They've spent more hours training in a gym than spending time with their friends over the years, but it's paid off. After qualifying for the U.S. Junior Olympic squads in Tampa, Fla. last week, gymnasts Olivia Pickering and Chloe Nelson will compete in the upcoming Junior Olympic Nationals.

Pickering, who left early Wednesday morning, will compete in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, while teammate and friend Nelson will fly to Hampton, Va. for her tournament next week. To have one compete in nationals is impressive. To have two from the same gym reach that level borders on historic.

"I'm not sure it's been done here in the city of Hattiesburg," said Paul Beach, Nelson and Pickering's coach at Warrior Gymnastics Gym, "but (not) in the state of Mississippi in a long time."

Going back to the hours spent by both in the gym, it may come as no surprise they've reached this far. Both Nelson and Pickering spend four and a half hours at Warriors Gymnastics, five days a week. Needless to say, it's not the life of an average high schooler.

"Being a gymnast, you know you're going to miss out on some stuff that other normal kids get to do," says Nelson. "It's my last week of school (at Oak Grove High School) next week when I'm leaving, and I have to miss some senior stuff.

"...but I know everything's going to be worth it."

"In the end, it all works out," agreed Pickering, "because, I guess, my passion is so high for the sport."

Besides a passion for being gymnasts, the two share a passion as well. "If someone's having a good day, one pulls the other one up," said Beach, "(If) Someone's having a bad day, same thing. One pulls the other one up."

"It's been amazing being teammates with Olivia," shared Nelson, "She's always been so supportive and I love having someone my age around here, so we can talk about you know, school stuff and drama."

That chemistry has even carried out of the gym, where Pickering hopes to follow in Nelson's footsteps as a collegiate gymnast. Nelson recently signed a scholarship to attend Yale University as a gymnast; she's the first student ever from Oak Grove High School to sign a scholarship with Yale.

The 17-year old Pickering still has time before she must make her college decision, though she's visiting a few SEC schools in the future. For the immediate future, fitting she'll head to the nation's capital with the hopes of claiming a national championship.

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