Gymnast vaults into stardom


Provided by Ja'Leigh Lang

Gymnast Ja’Leigh Lang ’24

Deanie Cooper ’24, Staff Reporter

     Gymnastics is a very complex and challenging sport. It requires time, effort, strength, determination, flexibility, and control.  Ja’Leigh Lang is a sophomore at Archbishop Riordan High School and has been in the sport since 2013, being just 6 years old when she joined. 

She is a new addition at San Mateo Gymnastics Center after competing with Bayshore Elite Gymnastics up until the end of the pandemic in 2021. Her gym unfortunately canceled the program she was part of, the women’s JO program. Many people are put into a sport by their parents, but not for Ja’Leigh. “I really had no clue on what sport I wanted to do when I got older but after the Olympic trials in 2012, that’s when I knew I wanted to be a gymnast.”  

She was completely inspired on her own with no pressure from anyone to take on the challenge. Like many others, she looks up to four time  gold medalist Simone Biles. In women’s Olympic gymnastics the events are vault, uneven bars,  balance beam, and floor exercise. All gymnasts have their best events, and Ja’Leigh’s is the vault. 

Gymnasts have many incredible skills, one of them being flexibility. Ja’Leigh has shown how flexible she is when she competed in the school limbo competition. She made it to the last round and tied for first place. 

To succeed in gymnastics, one has to put a lot of time and effort in, more time than anyone would typically spend on a sport. Ja’Leigh practices 20 hours a week, Monday through Friday from 5pm-9pm. Four hours a day is a lot to balance along with school. 

She said, “I plan to continue competing until I finish college, I believe that’s all my body is going to be able to handle.” 

Gymnastics places an immense amount of  pressure on the body. It is a very high impact sport that can cause many injuries if the athlete slips up. 

Studies by Elsevier Global Medical show that up to 100,000 gymnasts suffer from injuries each year. In fact she has suffered from an elbow, achilles, back, knee, and ankle injury. Gymnastics is an incredibly difficult sport that can be incredibly risky and takes years to perfect.