(KRON) — A San Jose teen gymnast is preparing for the 2024 Olympics in France. There hasn’t been a gymnast from the Bay Area on the U.S. Olympic team since the 1990s. Nola Matthews would like to change that.
Meet 16-year-old gymnast Nola Matthews from Gilroy. She spends 30 hours a week at Airborne Gymnastics in San Jose, and her hard work is paying off.
Matthews competed against seven-time Olymipic Gold Medalist Simone Biles. Just last week at the U.S. Classics, Matthews came in fourth place. Biles came in first.
“It’s just such an honor to be able to compete on such a big stage like that. So it’s just really cool,” Nola told KRON4.
Nola says her goal has always been to make it to the Olympics and feels the strongest on the bar event. She says her weakness is on the vault.
Of course, progress comes with good coaching.
“She is, as of this moment, on track to making Olympic trials and then hopefully the Olympics next year,” said Nola’s coach Cleo Washington.
Washington says there are not many African American coaches in the gymnast world.
“So “I remember when I was an athlete and I did not see any coaches really that looked like me,” Washington said. “It’s hard to to not be in all different types of spaces or be represented in that way. And so I think for me, it’s really cool.”
She’s been coaching Nola for 4 years after moving from Delware. Washington knows the commitment Nola has to make to get to the Olympics.
“I have been homeschooled since fifth grade, so I’ve been on this path for a long time, and it gets hard mentally and physically,” Nola said
Nola will compete against Biles again in two weeks in San Jose at the U.S. Championships — on the path to the 2024 Olympics.