10 Questions with Team USA Rhythmic Gymnast, Julie Zetlin
Added by Shannon Hovan on July 12, 2012.
Julie Zetlin is the first person to represent the United States in Rhythmic Gymnastics since 2004.
In London, Julie Zetlin will be the first athlete to represent the United States in rhythmic gymnastics at the Olympic Games since Athens in 2004. It took years of hard work, dedication and a refusal to give up. Is gold on her mind? She says she won’t even be thinking about it. She’s just trying not to get too overwhelmed and to remain fearless.
1. You’re heading to your first Olympic Games in a few weeks. How are you handling that in terms of physical and mental training? Are you treating the Olympics as just another competition? Trying not to look too far ahead?
Physical and mental training stays the same. Obviously I am tremendously excited to be going to my first Olympic Games. It is everything that I have ever dreamed of! But, in order to be ready, I maintain a calm and steady manor. Training is just as intense as its always been, yet I try to keep in mind quality versus quantity of routines. In order for me to not get overly anxious when I get to London, I try to stay level headed, so I don’t get ahead of myself or overwhelmed. The Olympics is the most prestigious competition any athlete can ever accomplish making, so I definitely want to take it all in, and get the whole experience. However, I also need to stay focused and kind of make it look like just another competition.
2. Your mother is a former champion in the sport, was it she who first involved you in rhythmic gymnastics? How much has she helped you grow in the sport?
Yes, she was the one who got me involved in rhythmic gymnastics. She always supported me in any decision I ever made in regards to the sport. She never pushed me to do anything I didn’t want to do.
3. What does it mean to you to be the first athlete since 2004 to represent the US in rhythmic gymnastics at the Olympic Games?
It means the world to me. I sometimes cannot even fathom that I am making this step forward…not just for myself but for the U.S. rhythmic gymnastics program. I feel so extremely honored that I made it, and I just hope I can inspire the youth of our program to work hard and long enough to keep the trend of making the Olympics. After all, it takes a lot of time and dedication to get this far!
4. What did it take for you to get to this point? What has your success at the 2011 Pan Am Games done for your confidence in preparing and training for London?
It took years of very hard work, and never giving up. My passion and love for my sport always drove me. I always thought to myself, the only way to be successful is not necessarily the most talented athletes, but the athletes that love what they are doing. My success at the 2011 Pan Am Games definitely proved to myself that I earned my spot, and that I am what the western hemisphere needs to represent our side of the world.
5. Recently, I read, that you said you do not expect to medal in London. However, though you may not expect to, do you believe that you CAN medal?
That is not even in my thought process. The only thing in my control, is the way I perform on that carpet. All I am hoping to do is to show my confidence, show my readiness, hit all my routines, and show no fear!
6. Is representing the US in the Olympic Games the highest accomplishment for an athlete?
Capital Y.E.S! I cannot even think of anything more fulfilling than that!
7. In your eyes, as a top competitor in your sport heading into London, is winning Gold simply a goal, or is it the only option?
Again, for me, that is not something I will be thinking about.
8. Aside from competing, what are you most looking forward to in terms of the experience of being an Olympian?
I am looking forward to being surrounded by Olympians from all different sports in the Olympic Village! I heard that experience from the Olympic Games is one of the coolest and most memorable.
9. Throughout your career, did the accomplishment of participating in the Olympic Games always seem attainable?
It did not. As a little girl, I was constantly told by other coaches (not my own) that I did not possess the talent or skills needed to be a good rhythmic gymnast. I used that as my driving force and determination to prove them wrong. I just hoped I could make the national team, however the reality of actually being able to make the Olympics didn’t hit me until I became a senior level gymnast. I was told by one of the best Russian coaches in teh world, that I was the next one who would take the U.S. to the Olympic Games.
10. Do you feel there is a special camaraderie that exists between fellow Olympians? If any member of Team USA were to win a medal, would it be as if you won it as well?
Definitely! I think the beauty of Team USA is that we act as one team. If anyone wins a medal from our team, I will feel such a sense of pride, and feel included in their experience…especially if it is an athlete that I am friends with!
We will continue our 2012 Team USA / London Olympics Interview Series all month leading up to the start of the Games. Find all the interviews and more Team USA coverage on the DoubleGSports.com Team USA page.