Mahwah Gymnast aims for Olympic qualifications

MAHWAH, NJ — Beginning her gymnastics journey at age 5, Mahwah resident Olivia Kelly trains three to four hours a day, six days a week in a gym, honing her form and technique , and the years of work she has done now shine through.

“My whole life is dedicated to gymnastics,” said the 16-year-old. “I love doing flips and swings on the bars. I feel like my inner child is coming out.”

Kelly, a gymnast in the United States Women’s Development Program, is aiming for a spot at the Paris Olympics in 2024, something she never thought possible. Her qualifying journey will take her through several world-class competitions, such as the Pan American Masters Games, leading to the Olympic Trials.

She is coming off first place in the all-around at the 2022 Jamaica Gymnastics Classic, an International Gymnastics Federation meet; and a bronze medal on balance beam at the U.S. Women’s Development Program Tier 10 Nationals in Arizona, a press release

Kelly, a native of New York, will also represent the Barbados national gymnastics team at the elite international level this summer. She has dual citizenship through her paternal grandfather, who was born there, and said she was thrilled to give back to the beautiful island nation she loves.

“I never thought I would go down this path. I can live out my childhood dream of competing internationally,” she said. “It’s unreal. It’s very, very crazy.”

Kelly trained for several years with former US national team member Ashley Umberger, owner of North Star Gymnastics Academy in Boonton.

“Olivia has always had exceptional quality,” Umberger said. “She has the ability, works hard and thrives in high-pressure situations; she’s the perfect trifecta.”

In the coming weeks, Kelly said, she will focus on performance quality and the details of her routine and try to stay physically and mentally healthy.

“No matter what, I’ll be glad I gave it my all,” Kelly said. “I’ve dedicated so much to this sport, and I’ll be happy with whatever I end up doing.”

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