Champion gymnast Bobby Costea has broad shoulders, small hips and is 40 pounds of pure muscle.
â€œHeâ€™s going to be hunky when heâ€™s 20,â€ said Karen Costea, his mother.
At the tender age of 7, Bobby has already won three first place medals at the 2005 North Carolina Menâ€™s Gymnastics Championships.
He missed having first place All-Around in his age group by only half a point at last Sundayâ€™s event.
Being the best of the best takes lots of practice â€“ 12 hours a week to be exact, but Bobby doesnâ€™t seem to mind the rigorous activity.
â€œIâ€™m hyper,â€ he said.
Having the energy of a 7-year-old and the drive of someone much older have helped Bobby succeed.
â€œHe has persistence and determination. He doesnâ€™t give up,â€ said his mother. â€œI guess you could say heâ€™s stubborn.â€
His mother first noticed Bobbyâ€™s gift when he was only 18 months old. She was unpacking boxes at the familyâ€™s new home and couldnâ€™t find him.
â€œHe was toddling around, and I lost him,â€ she said.
She was shocked to find the toddler in the backyard climbing up a swing set. Instead of panicking, she went over and encouraged him to climb toward her.
â€œAn unearthly sense of calm came over me,â€ she said.
After that incident, she signed her young son up for gymnastics classes, eventually switching him to a gym featuring â€œloving Russian coaches.â€
Since then, Bobby has racked up 24 medals.
â€œI just do it. I just get them,â€ he said.
His heavy practice schedule, which requires him to leave school 12 minutes early every day, has not affected his schoolwork.
â€œBobby is as good a student as he is a gymnast,â€ said his principal Dave Machado at the Denver Campus of the Lincoln Charter School.
Heâ€™s not a perfect angel, however. His high energy and gymnastic know-how have caused some problems at school.
â€œHe has gotten in trouble on several occasions for handstand walking down the hall,â€ said his mother.
â€œI like to be upside down instead of right side up,â€ he explained.
Bobby plans to quit gymnastics someday, maybe at the age of 100. His parents hope he keeps it up long enough to win a college scholarship. Bobbyâ€™s dream is going to the 2016 Olympics.
For now, heâ€™s content to stick to his practice schedule and compete whenever possible.
â€œHeâ€™s a lamb and loves to perform, but heâ€™s shy at the same time,â€ said his mother. â€œWhen he goes on the floor, itâ€™s like a switch turns on.â€
Russian coaches Sasha Shlyuyev and Stass Savitch share in their studentsâ€™ first place victory. Contributed Photo
by Sarah Grano