Roughly a year ago, UCLA gymnast Sophina DeJesus vowed to end her senior year gymnastics career “with a bang”. A video of her floor routine in a competition has gone viral not only for her excellent gymnastic technique, but also for the way DeJesus incorporated popular dances such as the Whip, Nae Nae, and the Dab. Plenty of people went wild over this video and were proud to see a young Afro-Latin@ athlete having fun and dominating in her sport. But like any successful athlete, DeJesus has some harsh critics who question the legitimacy of her routine or whether dance moves like this belong in a gymnastics routine. Many believe that she would never make it to the Olympics with a routine like this. And these were just some of the milder criticisms. I’ll leave it to you to imagine some of the harsher words that have been said about this young athlete.
While I am neither an expert on gymnastics nor a former gymnast, I imagine that the floor routine gives the gymnast the opportunity to showcase their creativity in ways that they can not on, say, the balance beam. DeJesus delivered a great athletic performance while embracing her culture and having fun, something that critics seem to have a problem with. And with a score of 9.925, she came pretty close to perfection.
Thankfully, DeJesus has no intentions of letting the haters stop her creativity. If invited, she plans to do this same routine at other competitions for UCLA. While I do not know if the Olympics are in her future, I hope DeJesus will continue to whip and dab her way to the top.
Ashley Graham, Lifestyle Editor