We recently caught up with 2011 World Champion Sabrina Vega, a former U.S. National Team member. Known for her brilliant artistry and captivating dance, Sabrina has been a fan favorite since her days as a junior elite. Now she’s taking her talents to the University of Georgia, where she’ll compete as a freshman this season. She tells us about her long career in elite, her comeback in 2015, her goals for NCAA, and more!

Inside Gymnastics: How is your training going?
Sabrina Vega: Training is going great! I love the team and environment of training here at Georgia! I’ve had to make adjustments to new training styles, but I’m absolutely loving it here.

Inside: What made you choose to compete in NCAA at Georgia?
Sabrina: After U.S. Classics in 2015, my coaches and I decided it was best for me to put my elite career to rest and continue on to the next chapter of my life. I was absolutely blessed with the opportunity to compete and be a part of the Bulldog family.

Inside: What are you most looking forward to as a Georgia student and as a collegiate gymnast?
Sabrina: From my first day on campus I felt at home so actually being here is surreal. UGA has given me the opportunity to focus on getting my degree and working towards the goals I have for my academics/career as well as continuing the sport I love! I’m really looking forward to starting my first season as a collegiate gymnast! It’s different then elite competition but I’m super excited to be a part of this awesome experience!

Inside: What were some of the highs and lows of your elite career?
Sabrina: I think the highs of my elite career were definitely my five years on [the] national team, representing Team USA in eight different countries, and of course the 2011 World Championships. I guess I can say that my lows were not making the Olympic team in 2012. I never refer to that experience as a low because although I was pretty crushed at the moment, it honestly made me into who I am today.

Inside: Tell us about your decision to return to elite competition in 2015.
Sabrina: After Olympic Trials in 2012, I took some time off to heal an injury. In that time I made the decision that I wanted to try for 2016, which led me to move to Kansas City [to train] at GAGE. I had my eyes set on making the next Olympic team, but that was not the plan God had for my life. I unfortunately had two surgeries on my shoulder and a dislocated kneecap that took me out of training for quite some time. It was something that I was not going to give up and was going to push until I had nothing left. I had the opportunity to compete at 2015 Classics, so I gave it a shot and did the best I could for being back only a few months after my second surgery. I had to face the fact that it wasn’t meant to be. I had to trust that although God was closing the door on the Olympics, He was going to open another and I have to say He definitely did and I’m thankful for it! I can stand here today and say I am proud of all I accomplished in my elite career and I’m excited to start my collegiate career.

Inside: Do you ever get the urge to return to elite?
Sabrina: I have to say no because I’m happy where I am today and with all I accomplished as an elite gymnast.

Inside: Martha Karolyi has retired from her role as national team coordinator; can you reflect back on some of your favorite memories at the Ranch under Martha’s tutelage?
Sabrina: I was sad to hear that Marta was retiring! I cannot thank her enough for all the opportunities she had given me to represent USA around the world. I remember being at the Ranch was an absolute privilege and although it was a very strict and—some might say—intense environment, there was no doubt that we were becoming the best gymnasts in the world! There is no doubt in my mind that Marta Karolyi was and forever will be the best National Team Coordinator for USA… an absolute legend!

Inside: Do you think you might coach gymnastics someday?
Sabrina: As of right now I don’t think so, haha. My goal is to one day become a Sports Orthopedic Surgeon. I am focusing on my degree and getting into med school and seeing where that takes me!

Inside: What are your goals for your first year at Georgia?
Sabrina: Honestly, my goals for this year is getting used to being back in school, and getting back into competition mode! I am looking to contribute to the team wherever the team needs me! I honestly can’t wait for competition season to begin.

Inside: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Sabrina: Not sure if anyone knows…but beam and floor are my favorite events!! I got a new floor routine and I am so excited to show it off once season comes around!

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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