Gymnastics Revolution NEWS


The United States has long been a force in the world community of gymnastics.  But how does a gymnast rise from a recreational program at the local gym into a world champion?   How are the “best” identified?  Who monitors their training, and develops the next Mary Lou Rettons and Carly Pattersons?  USA Gymnastics, the national governing body for the sport of gymnastics, is charged with this responsibility, and one of the methods that they use for this difficult task is the Talent Opportunity Program, or TOPs. 

The TOPs program is a talent search and educational program for female gymnasts ages 7-11.  It measures flexibility, strength, speed, agility in these young athletes.  The highest-ranking gymnasts in these areas are invited to a National Level testing at the famed Bela Karolyi’s Ranch in Houston, where the very best gymnasts are carefully selected.

Photography by: Philip Morton

One TOPs gymnast, as she has come to be called, is Gymnastics Revolution’s Rachel Fielitz. Rachel is among approximately 12 athletes from Gymnastics Revolution who were tested last summer through the TOPs program.  This year, Rachel showed the most promise and potential through her ability to perform chin ups, a handstand for 60 seconds, and a 20 meter sprint in under 3.25 seconds.  These three tests, and several others, are the first phase of the TOPs program.

Once tested on the Regional level (New England and New York,) Rachel was invited to be tested at the National Testing, held from October 19-22 in Houston.  The top 10% of all of the country’s gymnasts were invited to this test, and from that, 10% of the gymnasts were selected to be members of the TOPs National Team.         

In addition to the exercises listed above, Rachel also had to demonstrate many difficult skills, including 2 back handsprings on the Balance Beam, and complex vaulting skills.  In fact, though, Rachel’s skill testing proved to be her strength, as she was very highly evaluated by the USA Gymnastics National Staff.  Rachel’s results were tallied, and she was determined to be in the top 1% of all 10 year olds in the country, and invited to participate in an all expenses paid training camp in Houston this December. 

Rachel trains 5 days a week at Gymnastics Revolution, and in addition to her involvement in the TOPs program, she is a proficient Level 8 gymnast, who hopes to do well in the State and Regional Championships this spring.  In the past, Rachel has performed well in the TOPs program, although 2005 has clearly been her best year to date.  She was invited to the National Test last year, but was just below the mark needed to qualify to the National Team.  She was also the silver medalist from last year’s State Championships. 

Rachel has her hands full as she continues to train for the upcoming competitive season and her trip to the National Team Training camp this December.

Already, she has joined the ranks of many American Olympians who began their  respective trips to excellence in the TOPs program.  Her successes as a TOPs athlete virtually guarantee that both Rachel and her coaches will continue to be watched and educated in their quest for gymnastics brilliance!

LAST UPDATE: 10/30/2005