Dismissing ‘Controversial’ Opinion 19-Year-Old US Gymnastics Icon Skye Blakely Embraces Her Cultural Side

Published 02/09/2024, 6:15 AM EST

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Athletes attract a lot of attention and fame due to their achievements, making them influential figures who serve as role models for many fans. These role models’ ability to overcome adversity inspires their fans to do the same. A US gymnastics fan’s mother recently shared a similar story of inspiration echoing this theme.

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Skye Blakely, a vital member of the US gymnastics team, recently acquired her second world championship gold at Antwerp in 2023. Interestingly, the way the 19-year-old’s demeanor during performances has deeply inspired a young admirer. In fact, according to a social media update, she has become more comfortable embracing her identity because of Blakely.

When Skye Blakely showed up for herself 

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USA Gymnastics recently shared a new reel on Instagram sharing the experiences of gymnasts on the national team. Sitting before the camera, Skye Blakely shared her story of ditching a demeaning opinion regarding her appearance as a young girl. The US gymnastics star said, “ Being a black gymnast… I compete with my hair natural. Really curly. A lot of people don’t always feel confident to wear their hair like that but I want to show that you can always be most confident in your natural self.” 

She further noted, “Because being a younger girl and growing up my hair wasn’t always appreciated in the way that I wore it and I felt I had to find confidence in that and now I wear it like that so others can find confidence in that as well.” According to the story of the mother of a young gymnast Ingrid, this attitude of the US gymnastics star has served as a source of strength. 

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Ingrid’s mother wrote, “Ingrid always wanted her hair straightened for meets until she saw Skye! Thx Skye!” Interestingly, the Instagram feed of Ingrid’s mom has photos of the little gymnast performing with her natural hair and winning contests. The fact that this beautiful change was created by the US gymnastics star showing up for herself is really heartwarmingInterestingly, the reel also shared the tales of two more role models, Jordan Chiles and Shilese Jones.

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US gymnastics stars come forward with empowering stories

USA Gymnastics created and shared this reel with its followers to celebrate Black History Month. While Skye Blakely was the inspiration for Ingrid, many look up to Jordan Chiles as their inspiration as well. The US gymnastics star said that she was happy that she could pass down the strength she received from her own role models.

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Chiles noted that she added an element of her own to the confidence she borrowed from her monoliths. Now, seeing that she is the medium of that confidence and kids are modifying her traits to match theirs, she feels very elated. US gymnastics star Shilese Jones noted that knowing that she is a role model to many, motivates her to work harder. This in turn ushers a positive cycle where her fans also enhance themselves.

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Written by:

Ankit Singh

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Ankit Singh is a senior Olympic Sports correspondent at EssentiallySports who covers gymnastics, track and field, and the NCAA Women's Division 1 Volleyball. In his early days at ES, Ankit covered two prime track and field events - the 2023 World Athletics Championships and the 2023 Prefontaine Classic. During the 2023 NCAA Division 1 women’s Volleyball championships, Ankit wrote his perspectives on the Nebraska Huskers and the Wisconsin Badgers rivalry, and later covered the transfer portals after the Texas Longhorns lifted the victory.
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