- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 17, 2008

She knew by the judge’s scores and final results in high-profile competitions that rapid improvement was being made this spring and summer.

But it wasn’t until the second night of last month’s U.S. Olympic trials that Gaithersburg gymnast Corrie Lothrop felt like she really had made a breakthrough.

She was on TV.

The 16-year old’s consistent routines merited air time during NBC’s broadcast, which instantly lit up Lothrop’s cell phone and flooded her e-mail account.

“I was definitely happy with what I did on the second day - especially because my routines were actually on TV,” she said. “My friends and family were like, ‘Oh my God! We saw you.’ I don’t think I was on at all during the first night and definitely not during the U.S. championships, so that was really cool for me.”

The entire year has been really cool for Lothrop, a rising junior at Magruder High School. It continued Wednesday when she and coach Kelli Hill flew to the Houston area for a four-day selection camp that will decide the final four spots on the Olympic team.

Trials champion Shawn Johnson and runner-up Nastia Liukin are already on the team. Following the trials, team coordinator Martha Karolyi intimated that Chelsie Memmel, Samantha Peszek and Alicia Sacramone likely would be on the team. That leaves one spot for seven gymnasts.

“It is a long shot,” Hill said. “She is the least experienced athlete coming into the top 10 as far as years on the national team, as far as her being a first-year senior [gymnast] and as far as her being to only one international event and that was in Canada.”

The gymnasts trained Wednesday, have two workouts Thursday, compete in all four events Friday, work out Saturday morning and compete in two events later in the day.

Entering U.S. nationals in early June, Lothrop wasn’t sure she even would qualify for the trials. But she finished eighth in the all-around.

“She came on like gangbusters, and we were thrilled,” Hill said. “Even after that, it was quite a long shot to be chosen to the selection camp.”

At the trials, Lothrop placed ninth in the all-around, highlighted by a sixth-place finish in the vault.

“I felt I was pretty good, but after trials I knew I was pretty good,” Lothrop said. “It really kicked in after that.”

Said Hill: “Both days at trials, she rose to the occasion and did a phenomenal job. I didn’t know what to expect from her because she had no experience. But she came out of the blue.”

Lothrop’s journey to this point included two permanent road trips. She was born March 26, 1992, in Wuhan, China, located several hundred miles west of Shanghai. At age 3, Don and Joan Lothrop adopted her, and she grew up in Middleton, Mass. Corrie has never returned to China.

“It would be really cool for me to go back since I haven’t been there for so long,” she said. “I don’t remember anything, and I’m sure a lot has changed.”

The Lothrops own and operate Yellow Jackets Gymnastics, where Corrie began her training. Three years ago, Corrie and Joan moved to Maryland so Corrie could work with Hill, who has coached since 1981 and produced Olympians for the last four games.

“My Dad knew Kelli and thought she was a really great coach,” Corrie said. “When I tried out at the gym, I knew I would like it a lot.”

Hill’s first impression was that Corrie had an equal amount of potential and fearlessness.

“She’s a complete workaholic, and she’s very even-keeled emotionally,” Hill said. “Sometimes, if I’m worried some things are hurting her, I remind her what the smart thing is to do. It’s a wonderful problem to have.”

Lothrop trains twice a day for a combined four hours but still adheres to a semi-regular academic schedule (10 a.m.-2 p.m. when school is in session). She works in a group of eight gymnasts, but there are more than two dozen athletes also working in the gym, 13- and 14-year olds who look up to Lothrop.

“She’s very, very quiet, and her leadership is completely by example,” Hill said. “She leads more by example than any other gymnast I’ve had.”

The roles will be reversed in Texas, where Lothrop will learn from veterans like Sacramone and Memmel, both 20 years old, and will try to make an early impression on the road to London in 2012.

“She’s setting herself up wonderfully for the next [four years],” Hill said. “There are the world championships next year, and this will help her a great deal. … As a 13- and 14-year old, she was a little behind as a junior, and we’ve been playing catch up. But we’re getting there - quickly.”

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide