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Practice makes perfect

Champion gymnast Bobby Costea has broad shoulders, small hips and is 40 pounds of pure muscle.
“He’s going to be hunky when he’s 20,” said Karen Costea, his mother.
At the tender age of 7, Bobby has already won three first place medals at the 2005 North Carolina Men’s Gymnastics Championships.
He missed having first place All-Around in his age group by only half a point at last Sunday’s event.
Being the best of the best takes lots of practice – 12 hours a week to be exact, but Bobby doesn’t seem to mind the rigorous activity.
“I’m hyper,” he said.
Having the energy of a 7-year-old and the drive of someone much older have helped Bobby succeed.
“He has persistence and determination. He doesn’t give up,” said his mother. “I guess you could say he’s stubborn.”
His mother first noticed Bobby’s gift when he was only 18 months old. She was unpacking boxes at the family’s new home and couldn’t find him.
“He was toddling around, and I lost him,” 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.
“An unearthly sense of calm came over me,” she said.
After that incident, she signed her young son up for gymnastics classes, eventually switching him to a gym featuring “loving Russian coaches.”
Since then, Bobby has racked up 24 medals.
“I just do it. I just get them,” he said.
His heavy practice schedule, which requires him to leave school 12 minutes early every day, has not affected his schoolwork.
“Bobby is as good a student as he is a gymnast,” said his principal Dave Machado at the Denver Campus of the Lincoln Charter School.
He’s not a perfect angel, however. His high energy and gymnastic know-how have caused some problems at school.
“He has gotten in trouble on several occasions for handstand walking down the hall,” said his mother.
“I like to be upside down instead of right side up,” 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. Bobby’s dream is going to the 2016 Olympics.
For now, he’s content to stick to his practice schedule and compete whenever possible.
“He’s a lamb and loves to perform, but he’s shy at the same time,” said his mother. “When he goes on the floor, it’s like a switch turns on.”

Russian coaches Sasha Shlyuyev and Stass Savitch share in their students’ first place victory. Contributed Photo

by Sarah Grano

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