By Anna Rose Johnson

As a member of the silver medal-winning U.S. team at the 2019 Jesolo Trophy, 15-year-old Ciena Alipio is already something of a veteran in junior elite. She tied for the balance beam silver at last year’s U.S. Junior Championships and she recently won the all-around at the American Classic. Earlier this month, we chatted with Alipio to discuss Jesolo, U.S. Championships, her role model (Nastia Liukin!), and 2020.

Inside Gymnastics: What was it like to compete at the 2019 Jesolo Trophy and win silver with your team?
Ciena Alipio: Competing at the 2019 Jesolo Trophy was an amazing experience. I was excited to be on the team with Konnor [McClain], Kayla [DiCello], and Sophia [Butler] because I have known these girls since we were at Developmental Camps together. It was my very first international assignment, and I was not sure what to expect going into the training days and the competitions. Going into the first practice, I was a little nervous, but once we started our warm-up, it felt like a normal workout. I did what I do in the gym and it was a really great first workout. On competition day, I felt prepared to go out there and make my routines count. We started on beam, and I was first up. I hit my beam routine and it was a great way to start off the meet and the rotation. As the meet went on, I was getting more and more excited, and I really happy with how we were doing. We knew it would be a tight meet between us and the Russian team. We were all very happy about where we came out as a team. I was happy to qualify for some of the event finals. Overall, I had an unforgettable experience.

Inside: What are you most looking forward to this season?
Ciena: This season, I am looking forward to U.S. Championships. I am really excited to be competing at Championships because I enjoy competing in big arenas with some of my closest friends. My goal for Championships this year is to make the U.S. Junior National Team again.

Inside: Are you excited to be a senior next year?
Ciena: I am excited to be a senior next year. Being a senior sounds like a lot of fun competition-wise, because the big competitions are broadcasted on TV and there are bigger crowds.

Inside: How’s your training going currently?
Ciena: My training is going really well currently. I am gearing up for U.S. Classic and Championships. So, we are focusing on routines, cleaning up form, and consistency.

Inside: Are you working on any upgrades?
Ciena: I am working on upgrades. The upgrades are for later this season and future routines for almost every event.

Inside: Are you looking forward to competing in NCAA?
Ciena: I am looking forward to competing in the NCAA. It seems like a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to be part of a team.

Inside: What’s your favorite apparatus?
Ciena: My favorite event is beam.

Inside: When will your next competition be?
Ciena: My next competition will be in a little over a week, at the U.S. Classic, in Louisville, Kentucky.

Inside: Who are some of your role models in gymnastics?
Ciena: When I was little, I would always watch the 2008 Olympics and I loved seeing Nastia Liukin compete. I looked up to her and I loved her leo line with GK.

Inside: Which competitions would you like to check off your bucket list?
Ciena: I would like to compete at a World Championships and many more international competitions.

Inside: What are your long-term goals? Are you aiming for Tokyo 2020?
Ciena: Some of my long-term goals are to continue to be on the National Team, compete at a World Championships, and compete in college. As a first-year senior in 2020, I think it would be an amazing honor and exciting experience to be named to the [Olympic] team.

Anna Rose Johnson writes about women’s artistic and rhythmic gymnastics. She loves Whippets, brownies, and full-twisting double layouts. Her writing portfolio can be viewed at: https://annarosejohnson.contently.com