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updated: 6/12/2014 11:09 AM

After nine trips to state, gymnast ready for USA Games

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  • Special Olympics gymnast Janna Blowers, 19, of Campton Hills practices her beam routine at Excel Gymnastics in Geneva. She will be competing in the 2014 USA Games in New Jersey next week. A gymnast since she was 5, Janna has made state finals the last nine years.

       Special Olympics gymnast Janna Blowers, 19, of Campton Hills practices her beam routine at Excel Gymnastics in Geneva. She will be competing in the 2014 USA Games in New Jersey next week. A gymnast since she was 5, Janna has made state finals the last nine years.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • As head gymnastics coach Heather Giza of Fox Valley Recreation Association stands by, Special Olympics gymnast William Hanzlik of North Aurora gives Janna Blowers, 19, of Campton Hills, a high-five after her practice on the vault at Excel Gymnastics in Geneva. Blowers will be competing in the 2014 USA Games in New Jersey.

       As head gymnastics coach Heather Giza of Fox Valley Recreation Association stands by, Special Olympics gymnast William Hanzlik of North Aurora gives Janna Blowers, 19, of Campton Hills, a high-five after her practice on the vault at Excel Gymnastics in Geneva. Blowers will be competing in the 2014 USA Games in New Jersey.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Special Olympics gymnast Janna Blowers, 19, of Campton Hills practices her routine on the uneven bars at Excel Gymnastics in Geneva. She will be competing in the 2014 USA Games in New Jersey next week. A nine-time state finalist, it'll be her first appearance in the national games.

       Special Olympics gymnast Janna Blowers, 19, of Campton Hills practices her routine on the uneven bars at Excel Gymnastics in Geneva. She will be competing in the 2014 USA Games in New Jersey next week. A nine-time state finalist, it'll be her first appearance in the national games.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

 
 

Janna Blowers' passion for gymnastics started at the age of 5.

After competing in Special Olympics for 11 years, the 19-year-old will be representing Illinois at the Special Olympics 2014 USA Games in New Jersey next week.

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"She is very excited," said mother Betsy Blowers of Campton Hills. "This is going to be her one and only (time). In Illinois, you only get one (chance at nationals)."

The 2013 graduate of St. Charles North High School already has more than 100 medals under her belt, including roughly 20 gold, which likely earned her a spot at nationals, Betsy Blowers said.

Janna has been to the state competition 11 times, nine of them for gymnastics and the remainder for track, representing the Fox Valley Special Recreation Association.

Her older sister, Marcy, 24, was a Special Olympics gymnastics coach for the Fox Valley program and used to help Janna train. Today, Janna trains at Excel Gymnastics Academy in Geneva.

"They donate the time and the gym space for the Special Olympians to work out there so that's something we really appreciate," Betsy Blowers said.

At nationals, Janna's Illinois teammates are the same girls she has competed against at the state level over the years. Yet, there is no animosity, Betsy Blowers said.

"Absolutely, (she) gets along well," she said.

Janna will be traveling with her teammates to New Jersey, and her parents will be there to support her.

"We are very very excited about it," Betsy Blowers said. "We are very proud of her. She really works hard and wants to get the gold medal, but if she doesn't, she takes it well and goes right back to work. We definitely will be there cheering her on all the way."

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