Olympic Dream Brings "Swan" to North Texas

Gymnast who went to Beijing as alternate wants to compete in London

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    Ivana Hong's coach describes her as "an absolutely gorgeous amazing gymnast."

    In her quest to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games, a teenage gymnast has come to train in North Texas.

    Ivana Hong said she gives the sport everything she has: "Sweat, tears, tears of joy, tears of pain, tears of everything, I mean."

    Olympic Dream Brings "Swan" to North Texas

    [DFW] Olympic Dream Brings "Swan" to North Texas
    Meet Ivana Hong, who went to Beijing as an alternate and now trains in North Texas. (Published Friday, Aug 14, 2009)

    At age 15, Hong was good enough to earn a spot as an alternate on the 2008 Olympic Team, but she never got the call-up.

    "It was not really a disappointment, but I definitely wish I had been on that team," she said.

    She moved in February from her gym in Missouri to WOGA, the same gym that produced gold medalists Nastia Liukin and Carly Patterson.

    "It has a big name, not just in this country, but around the world," Hong said.

    The switch has served her well so far. After the first night of competition at the Visa Championships in Dallas, Hong was in second place in the all-round competition.

    She said she took time off from the sport after Beijing to heal an injury.

    "I had a fracture in my ankle all through last year, and I just never had a chance to heal it," she said.

    But she's pain-free now.

    "It's all good now," she said.

    Hong's new coach is Valeri Liukin, father of Olympic champion Nastia Liukin.

    "She's like a swan, an absolutely gorgeous amazing gymnast," Valeri Liukin said.

    Hong said the London Games are "definitely a thought in the back of my head."

    And she has no intention of being an alternate for the team this time.

    "It pushes you a little harder to not even be that close but actually on it," Hong said.