ST. GEORGE – As she stood atop the awards stand at the University of Montana’s Adams Center on Sunday, tears flowed freely for Rebekah Bean of St. George.
“They were tears of joy because I knew my hard work had paid off,” Rebekah Bean said of her all-around championship at the USA Gymnastics Level 9 2016 Women’s Junior Olympic Western Championships. “I always knew I could do it, but didn’t expect it, so it was a gratifying moment.”
Bean, the daughter of Tom and Laura Bean, has been competing since age 3. The sophomore at Desert Hills High School trains at Champion Gymnastics of Southern Utah under the tutelage of Jeremy Graff and Erika Almondinger.
“I knew she had a great shot at winning,” Graff said. He added that Bean took pressure off herself by deciding that she was going to be all about team. The meet involved 450 athletes from 24 states from Minnesota west. Region 1 includes Utah, California, Arizona and Nevada.
Region 1 won the meet.
“It was a pretty awesome experience — and for her,” Graff said of her role in the team championship. “This is a huge thing for our area.”
With a solid score of 9.775 on the vault, her best event, Rebekah Bean scored 37.750 to claim the title.
The meet was her last of the season, but she will continue training as she prepares to move up to Level 10 competition in January.
“I train four-and-a-half hours a day, Monday through Friday and sometimes on Saturdays,” the gymnast said of her schedule. “I just love going to the gym and working on new things that make you feel like you’re flying.”
Although none of her gym mates competed in Montana with her, Rebekah Bean said there are other girls who push her and help her to become better, including one who competes at Level 10 and several other Level 9 athletes.
Rebekah Bean has her eye on the prize as she continues to compete.
“I want to attend a Division I university through gymnastics,” she said. “I’ll go anywhere that will give me a scholarship.”
Her scholastic future may include something to do with the arts or maybe graphic design, she said.
Rebekah Bean thanked her parents and her coaches for their roles in her championship: “My parents are the most supportive people; they don’t pressure me. And my coaches know the goals I have and do what they can to help me achieve them.”
Her mom said it is a lesson in the rewards for hard work.
“It is so nice to see someone, who works so hard, loves her sport so much and makes good choices overall in life, win this kind of competition,” Laura Bean said. “We were so excited when she made it to Westerns, an honor in itself, and are so amazed but not surprised that she actually won.”
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