by Anna Rose Johnson

In less than one month, a new generation of talented junior gymnasts will be eligible for senior competition. One of these new seniors will be Maile O’Keefe of Salcianu, a two-time U.S. Junior National Champion and longtime fan favorite. In this Q&A, O’Keefe discusses her career so far, future competition goals, and a few fun facts:

Inside Gymnastics: Could you give us a brief overview of your competitive career so far?
Maile O’Keefe: I began competing as a Level 4 when I was six. I did two years as a Level 4 (age six {one meet & State} and six/seven); one year as a Level 5 (age seven/eight); tested through Level 6; three meets as a Level 7, and finished the season as a Level 8 (age eight/nine); did two years as a Level 9 (age nine/ten and ten/eleven); then became elite just three months after my eleventh birthday. This year represented my 5th U.S. Classic and 4th National Championships.

Inside: Tell us about winning back-to-back U.S. junior titles!
Maile: Winning back to back Championships was a dream come true! It was an intense meet! I wasn’t really focused on winning again, but just making national team. But I also knew that if I hit, I could possibly win. I am incredibly grateful for my family, friends, coaches, and the national staff for without their guidance, love and support, none of this would be possible.

Inside: Are you looking forward to your first year as a senior athlete?
Maile: I am so excited to become a senior!

Inside: How is your training going currently?
Maile: Training is going great! Working on upgrading and cleaning up!

Inside: Are you working on any upgrades for 2018?
Maile: Yes, I am working upgrades!

Inside: What’s your favorite apparatus?
Maile: I think bars is my favorite event.

Inside: What are your long-term gymnastics goals? Are you aiming for Tokyo 2020?
Maile: 2020 is my ultimate goal! But here in the near future I would love to make AT&T American Cup and hopefully Worlds!

Inside: What are some of your favorite competition memories?
Maile: One of my favorite competition memories was 2017 Championships Day 1 right before bars. All the girls including me (in the first half) all got together and did a little prayer circle. I know that sounds funny, but it was awesome!

Inside: Your floor routine is so expressive and your beam is so elegant. Do you incorporate artistic/dance training into your regular gymnastics training?
Maile: Yes, in my gym we do a little bit of artistic training.

Inside: Are you excited to pursue NCAA gymnastics at Utah? Do you think you might go pro in the future?
Maile: I’m super excited to pursue gymnastics at Utah. The team and atmosphere at Utah are amazing. I don’t want to get ahead of myself thinking about going pro.

Fun Facts about Maile

FAVORITE COLOR:
Blue

FAVORITE LEOTARD:
2017 P&G Championships Day 2

PETS:
“[I have] three dogs! Charlie, Zoey and TokyoMo.”

FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIA SITE:
Instagram

FUN OUTSIDE THE GYM:
“Hanging out with my friends and family!”

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