When Paulding Gymnastics opened its doors in August 2002, Allen was only 3 years old but came to the organization already having begun taking gymnastics at 18 months old.
“When I first started and realized what I was doing, I liked how hard it was…I enjoyed pushing my body and seeing how far I could go,” Allen said.
After winning the USA Gymnastics level nine state championship earlier this year, Allen went on to regionals in April and placed in the top eight, making the Region 8 team which later went to the national competition in Battle Creek, Mich., in May and took first place.
“I haven’t competed with a team in a really long time and it was great to work with other gymnasts on my level and walk away with a championship,” Allen said.
Allen also was promoted to a level 10 gymnast, the highest level outside of elite-level gymnastics.
Paulding Gymnastics’ head coach Charlie Johnson said, “I’ve been coaching for 25 years and she is by far my most determined gymnast, work ethic wise.
“She’s a very self-motivated gymnast,” he said. “She has the potential to compete with the best.”
Allen, a rising sophomore at South Paulding High School, is an all-around gymnast, competing on bars, beam, floor and vault.
While Allen loves doing gymnastics and always wanted to compete in the Olympics, she said she realized that would not be her path as she would need to be in an elite program — which Paulding Gymnastics does not have.
“I wouldn’t even think to leave this gym. It’s kind of become home to me. Mr. Charlie has become a second dad to me. I can’t picture myself being anywhere else,” Allen said.
However, she said she want to compete in college and fully plans to do so.
Paulding Gymnastics coach Mary Hyatt has no doubt that Allen will go as far as she wants.
“She’s extremely focused and has her eyes on her goal. She’ll get it because she wants it and will do what it takes. Her heart is in it and you can see it day in and day out.”
Now that Allen is a level 10, her routines will change to incorporate more difficult skills, but she said she welcomes the challenge.
To add to her gymnastics, Allen finished her freshman year at South Paulding sixth in her class of 449 with a 4.0 GPA.
“I’ve been determined to be the best whether it’s in the sport or in school,” she said.