Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Bad Girl Files #3

Gymnast: Stella Umeh
Gymnastics Highlight:Finished 16th AA at the 1992 Olympics, 1st AA at 1994 Commonwealth Games, Repeat floor champion while at UCLA, as well as helping team to championship victory.
The Crime: Dilettantism (and a little bit of attitude too)
Please Explain: Stella, unlike most gymnasts refused to focus on gymnastics alone throughout her career. She was also a competitive dancer for eight years, and only discovered gymnastics, which she described as becoming "my song...my sermon" when her mother got lost and stopped to ask at the Mississauga Gymnastics Club for help. Stella was intrigued by the gym and started classes immediately. According to her, though, she refused to eat, sleep and breathe gymnastics like many others. She wanted to be a normal kid and have a life outside the sport. This she believes, gave her a reputation, in her words for being "too black" and for having "an attitude" when she first started competing. Stella said that both judges and coaches labelled her as difficult because, "I didn't sit around kissing @#$ all day. I was there to compete."
Stella also refused to live the quiet, nunnish life of a young elite gymnast. "My room was always party central at meets...but I wasn't usually even there!!"
College didn't change Stella much either. Leah Hommah, who became Stella's room mate at UCLA remembers Stella's ability to oscillate wildly between party animal and angel well. "Back in college, Stella would hold bible studies at our home. Afterwards the two of us would spend the rest of the day with a big box of Kleenex, watching lifetime movies and crying. Stella would go from one extreme on Saturdays- partying, drinking, and being Stella, to the religious weeper on Sundays. She's always full of surprises."

The Punishment: Having the Canadian Gymnastics Federations watch her every move. They kept such a close eye on her at the 1992 Olympics, Stella couldn't devote quite enough attention to a Canadian athlete she had her eye on until after the meet. This, however, proved lucky as her good behaviour and focus led her to a top 16 finish.
Stella was also "nailed," in her words, by the Canadian Federation after her hotel room was trashed at the 1991 Indianapolis World Championships. Stella claims she was in another room when it happened.

Badness Rating: Low
It's funny, it seems elite gymnastics is one of the only places, except for maybe prison, where being a well-rounded individual is thought to hurt your chances at success!And successful she was!  Stella's jack-of-all-trades nature meant that not only did she enjoy herself whilst training, she prepared herself for a fruitful career later in circus and television.

3 comments:

  1. Can I submit a leo for the ugliest leo competition if it's from a leo website and I haven't seen anyone wear it in competition? This is probably the ugliest leo I've ever seen: http://sylviap.com.au/shop/product_info.php?cPath=1&products_id=254

    I hope to see more bad girls articles or maybe bad boys.

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  2. Gotta love Stella! Thank God she was dancer before she became a gymnast, otherwise she may not have become one the best FX performers of all time. She is definitely among my top 3!

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  3. i love stella. you should watch fire within - the cirque du soleil documentary. she is the most awesome person

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