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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

Gymnast shows her grit, commitment to sport after losing training facility to COVID

COVID-19 really messed with West Branch senior Olivia Poppen, but now she is finally back on the beam. Just in a different gym.

West Branch senior Olivia Poppen was training with the Iowa Gymnastics Academy in Iowa City when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

"I missed one meet because I had to quarantine. State meet was canceled," she told KCRG-TV9. "So no gymnastics for like, two months."

But gymnasts weren't allowed back in their old gym.

Twisters Gymnastics in Cedar Rapids and coach John Mangold came to the rescue, taking Poppen in and giving her a place to practice.

"I feel bad for all the seniors," Mangold said. "I mean they pretty much did the whole season not even knowing if they were gonna be able to compete. Because at that point we didn't have competitions ... it's tough, I feel bad for Olivia."

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It didn't take her long to get back in gymnastics shape, winning the all-around championship at state and nailing her beam routine to win the gold.

Poppen will compete in the Regional Championships this weekend with hopes of advancing to nationals. And she's doing it all while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average and commuting to Cedar Rapids for practice.

"I would say it comes down to using my time wisely," she said. "Go home after practice, eat, shower and then get all my homework."