Athletics & Recreation

Junior gymnast is Olympics-bound

Gymnast Simona Castro will compete for Chile at the 2012 Olympics in London. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Simona Castro had a feeling the call was coming. She just wasn’t sure when. Castro, a junior on the University of Denver gymnastics team, was confident she had turned in a solid performance at the Olympic trials for her home country of Chile. The timing of the call, however, could not have been more perfect.

On Jan. 11, her 23rd birthday, Castro became the second DU gymnast to be named to an Olympic team, following in the footsteps of former Pioneer Jessica Lopez. Lopez was named to the Venezuelan Olympic team in 2008 and, like Castro, will again represent her home country this summer in London.

“It was a little much to take at first,” Castro said of the phone call informing her of the good news. “But when I called my family, that’s kind of when it hit. They were all jumping up and down and were so happy.”

On Jan. 6, the management major competed with the Pioneers in a meet at the University of Georgia, finishing second on the team and third overall in the all-around. Castro promptly boarded a plane for London with DU assistant coach Carl Leland to compete at the 2012 Olympic test event. Castro placed 55th overall in the all-around and figured she had sealed her Olympic invitation, though she had to endure a wrenching wait before it became official.

Castro started her Olympic training with Leland in early May, beginning with strength and conditioning work before advancing to more specific routines.

“Like with Jessica [Lopez], this is a huge honor for our program,” says gymnastics coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart. “We wish [Simona] nothing but the best, and we are so proud to have her representing DU gymnastics on the Olympic stage.”

A veteran of the Chilean national team since 2001, Castro placed 53rd at the World Championships in 2005 and won the floor exercise at the 2007 South American Championships. Castro captured first place in the all-around for three consecutive years (2006–08) in the Chilean National Championships.


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