“Worst Year”: American Paralympic Athlete Reveals Harrowing Struggle in Gymnastics

Published 12/28/2023, 1:30 PM EST

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At 31 years old, Chelsea Werner from Danville is poised to compete in the Down Syndrome International World Championships for gymnastics. With unwavering dedication, she spends four days a week perfecting her skills on the floor, vault, beam, and bars. Werner’s lifelong love for gymnastics shines through her relentless pursuit of excellence in the sport.

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Over the last six years, Chelsea Werner has actively participated in USA Gymnastics alongside individuals without disabilities, achieving a remarkable feat by making it to this year’s state championships. However recently she revealed a candid update about not meeting her expectations this year.

Chelsea Werner’s resilience and triumph in 2023

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Recently Chelsea shared a post on Instagram carrying a video. She revealed, “2023 started out as my worst year for my gymnastics. She encountered her first mental block after twenty years of gymnastics. However, she is known for her determination, in childhood when doctors told her parents she wouldn’t be able to walk, she still chose her field of gymnastics. “She didn’t really (show) any passion or love for anything else,” says Lisa, who acts as her daughter’s interpreter. (Chelsea has limited speech.) 

What actually made her say “never give up” was her dedication which led her to win the 3rd World title in South Africa. “She had a lot of energy! It was more about running around than learning gymnastics,” Dawn says over email in her early days coaching Chelsea. However, it wasn’t just her effort, but also her exceptional coaches, as she even praised her coaches in the caption as well

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From gymnastics stardom to modelling

Chelsea Werner, born with Down Syndrome, defied expectations by becoming a remarkable gymnast despite the challenges posed by low muscle tone. Her journey began with soccer, but it was gymnastics that captured her heart. Supported by her family and coach, Dawn Pombo, Chelsea persistently trained and overcame hurdles, initially struggling to keep up with her peers. “When we look back now,” Chelsea’s mother, Lisa, recalled, “the first few years she really didn’t show that much promise”. However, her determination led to national and international success, winning medals in multiple disciplines at the Special Olympics and Down Syndrome International Championships.

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While Chelsea excelled in gymnastics for over a decade, she eventually sought new horizons beyond the sport. Transitioning from the gymnastics world, Chelsea ventured into modelling alongside her athletic pursuits. “Chelsea first got into modeling when we got an email from a clothing line that asked if she wanted to do a campaign for them,” Chelsea’s mother recalled. Despite her longstanding success in gymnastics, she embarked on this unexpected career path, demonstrating her versatility and embracing new opportunities beyond the confines of her athletic achievements.

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Written by:

Maleehah Shakeel

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Hey, I'm a fervent US sports writer at EssentiallySports, where my passion for sports seamlessly intertwines with the art of storytelling. I've honed my skills in crafting engaging narratives and offering insightful analysis within the realm of US sports, with a special expertise in equestrian sports. Equestrian sports aren't merely a fascination; they hold an irreplaceable spot in my heart.
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Edited by:

Sampurna Pal

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