WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – It was a big day for the Wichita Gymnastics Club.
Saturday, they celebrated their 50th year being in business. The big day also brought a special guest to the facility.
Kelly Garrison was a member of the 1988 U.S. Gymnastics team that competed in the Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.
Garrison put on a special clinic for more than three hours with the girls that were in attendance.
The club is also a part of Garrison’s journey in the sport.
“I actually got to compete here when I was nine years old, because I’m from Oklahoma,” said Garrison.
From the time she was seven years old, Garrison lived and breathed gymnastics.
“I progressed really quickly, I had a natural gift and a lot of coaches would tell me that,” said Garrison.
Coupled with a high pain tolerance and low fear factor, she says she had dreams of competing on the highest level.
“I was a little girl in a small town and I just thought sure, someone said you could make the Olympics, and silly old me believed them, and I thought, ‘you bet I can,” said Garrison.
After 14 years and three tries, Garrison achieved her dream by making the 1988 U.S. Gymnastics team.
“To be amongst all these other best athletes in the world, you are just like, wow, I’m one of them,” said Garrison.
She would compete in vault, bar, beam and floor events.
The U.S. team would finish fourth at the ’88 Summer games, behind the Soviet Union, Romania and East Germany.
Now, Garrison is hoping to not only inspire the next generation, but educate them as well.
“It’s really important for these girls to understand that this is a part of their life, it’s not their life,” said Garrison. “We’re teaching life skills, along with gymnastics.”
In addition to the Olympics, Garrison also competed in the 1983, 1985 and 1987 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.