MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The U.S. women's gymnastics team is one of the most-watched events during the Olympics, and that excitement is spreading locally and inspiring some young athletes to dream big.
A typical day at Thomas Gymnastics means tumbling across mats, balancing on beams and flipping over uneven bars but as the squad practiced with stretches and tumbles, the start of gymnastics in the 2016 Olympics was on their minds.
"I'm ready to see Gabby Douglas since she is the reigning champ and I've been rooting for her the whole time because she seems like she struggles. But I've been rooting for her the whole time," said Brashlyn Johnson.
For girls across the country, the U.S. gymnastics team has become what Michael Jordan is to basketball - an inspiration.
"They're such great role models and they do everything so well and make everything look so easy and it makes me come in the gym and work even harder," said Morgan Todd.
In the gymnastics world, the Olympics are the equivalent of the Super Bowl. While the girls are inspired, they still carry the same determination on their faces like the world's best gymnasts.
"I do some of the skills that they're competing in the Olympics so it's really cool to see that I'm training like they are," Johnson said.
These young gymnasts idolize world-class athletes but their own expectations are realistic for having an opportunity in the next Olympics.
"It's a very hard dream, a hard goal. It takes a lot of dedication and a lot of work so I don't know maybe," Todd said.
The sentiment is also something the owner of the gym Coach Sally Thomas hopes her students understand is more than perfect routines and the ability to balance on a beam. You have to do well in school. Something Jillian Matthews, who has been doing gymnastics since she was three, is already looking forward to.
"Long term, I want to get a college scholarship," said Jillian Matthews.
Also, with the Olympics going on, local gyms are already gearing up for what they call the Olympic boom.
In a non-Olympic year, I'm told gymnastics facilities are pretty steady. But during and shortly after the Olympics, coaches see at least a 10 to 25 percent jump in enrollment because kids want to follow in the Olympians' footsteps.
If you want to sign up for Thomas Gymnastics, call Sally Thomas at (843)-236-6630 or visit the website at thomasgymnasticsatthebeach.com.