Olympic gymnast visits Andover

Sandy Hull
Bridget Sloan, 16, of Pittsboro, Ind., poses with her grandmother, Beulah Sloan of Andover, Saturday morning, Sept. 27. Bridget, who won a silver medal in the women’s gymnastics team competition in Beijing, spent a couple hours Saturday morning in Andover signing autographs, meeting Andover residents and having her picture taken with them.

    An Olympic silver medalist visited her grandmother, Beulah Sloan, and the town of Andover Saturday morning, Sept. 27.

    Bridget Sloan, 16, daughter of Jeff and Mary Sloan of Pittsboro, Ind., spent Saturday morning signing autographs, visiting with Andover residents and having her picture taken with them.

    Sloan earned a silver medal while competing with the women’s gymnastics team in Beijing. She was the first one to compete in the team competition and get a single vault.

    “Bridget was always active,” Beulah stated. “So at the age of three, her parents enrolled her in tumbling. She began taking gymnastic lessons at four.”

    On Friday, Sept. 26, Sloan served as United Township’s homecoming parade grand marshal. Her mother is a 1978 graduate of United Township High School.

    She also visited six schools in the area which contained at least one of her 25 cousins. The schools were St. Malachy’s in Geneseo, Geneseo Middle School, Jane Addams Elementary, Seton Elementary, United Township High and Our Lady of Grace Elementary.

    “Dream, believe and achieve is my motto,” Sloan stated. “I always dreamed of being in the Olympics. I recall writing my dream down on paper in third grade.”

    Sloan said to make a dream come true, it took dedication and lots, lots of practice.

    She described her average day as getting up around 6:45 a.m. and getting ready for school. She attends a public school, Tri West High School.

    “I attend school from 8:15 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.,” she stated. “After that I’m off to either physical therapy or practice.”

    Sloan said physical therapy is used to work out the kinks or any injuries she might have. After that, she is off to practice, usually four to five hours a night depending on what she needs to accomplish.

    “I practice gymnastics six days a week for four to five hours even if I’m not getting ready for a competition,” she stated. “I won’t compete any more this year but I have some things coming up in 2009.”

    Looking ahead Sloan can’t wait for 2012 and the chance to participate in another Olympics.

    When asked how she balances school and training, Sloan said she has great time management skills.

    “When I’m not at school or training, I am just like any other girl, I love to shop and hang out with my friends,” she stated.

    Sloan said her friends and family have been great.

    “They don’t treat me any different today, than they did before competing at the Olympics,” she stated. “

    Sloan said she learned she would be going to the Olympics on July 21. She left July 24.

    “Finding out I made the United States team on July 21 was overwhelming,” she stated. “It didn’t allow me a whole lot of time. I already had my passport and VISA ready to go just in case.”

    While in Beijing, Sloan said she enjoyed shopping, going to the Great Wall and other sites of interest.

    “It was very big, very cool and very exciting and interesting,” she concluded.