COSTA MESA, California – Orange County has Olympic fever especially for a local Filipino-American teenager.
At 15, Kyla Ross is the youngest member of the US women's gymnastics team.
“She's really, really sweet. She's really genuine and as far as training goes, she's so persistent in what she does,” said her friend Carissa Lim.
Born in Hawaii to a Filipino-Puerto Rican mother and African American-Japanese father, Ross moved to Aliso Viejo, California.
Gym Max has become her training ground. Many of the gymnasts here have known her since 2007, and many of the awards that decorate the gym are a result of Ross' hard work.
“She really deserves it because she works really hard and is probably the hardest worker out of all of us,” said another friend, Stacie Webb.
Gym Max Assistant coach Lenny Liang is the son of Ross' coach Howie, who is with her in London.
Liang said Ross showed potential from the beginning, physically and mentally.
“Short and strong, but at the same time, she's a kid with a lot of heart and a lot of conviction. She's the kind that does something, hangs on and keeps doing it until she gets it right. That's really a quality that everyone especially the coaching staff really admires. That’s something we try to teach to all our athletes and aspiring Olympians,” said Assistant Coach Liang.
As early as 2008, Ross has had her eye on the 2012 games in London.
As of now, Ross will be competing in the team competition. Her specialty includes the bars and balance beam. The results will not be known until after all the girls have competed in all of the events.
“Kyla is the athlete that'll help anchor the US in most of the starting events that she's going to starting on for team finals. For example she's really solid on beam, and she's a really solid competitor on bars so she’ll definitely help out for the US on those events,” added Liang.
Fellow Olympian McKayla Moroney from near by Long Beach has also trained along side with Ross at Gym Max.
The US women's gymnastics team has not won Olympic gold since the 1996.
The community is already planning a homecoming for when Ross returns from London in the next couple weeks. Her friends and coaches at Gym Max hope Ross can bring home some Olympic medals to add to their trophy collection.