At 51 years old, Algonquin gymnast ready to compete on world stage
Alison Wright quit gymnastics when she was 19, after training since she was 3 years old. She was planning to compete in college but "retired" just before the season started.
"That was one of the biggest regrets I have," she said. "I think I was nervous or I didn't feel like I was prepared for it."
Now, 32 years later and at the age of 51, the Algonquin resident is preparing to compete in the Gymnastics Masters Team World Cup in Einbeck, Germany. The Friday, Oct. 6, competition will feature teams of gymnasts ages 30 and older from the United States, Germany, Great Britain and Japan.
Wright will be performing on the balance beam -- one of her favorite events -- for Team USA.
"This is sort of my Olympics," she said.
Wright competes as an adult gymnast in the Amateur Athletic Union. This summer, she brought home a gold, two silver and two bronze medals from the AAU Gymnastics National Championship in Florida.
Wright restarted her training a mere two years ago after being inspired by an article about adult gymnastics.
"There's a whole community out there that I didn't know about," she said.
Finding a gym with an adult program was difficult until she came across Royalty Gymnastics, Tumble and Dance in Huntley.
Owner Edmar Nicolas said Wright is the reason he started an adult program. He said she is like a celebrity at the gym.
"I have my gymnasts look up to her," Nicolas said. "If she can still do it, so can anyone."
Training later in life does come with its challenges. Wright tore all the ligaments in both of her ankles in a tumbling accident in 2022.
"I spent the summer in a wheelchair. I missed Nationals. It was awful," she said.
Despite the injury, Wright got back into the gym as soon as she could. Her ankles are still bad, and she plans on getting surgery after the competition in Germany, she said.
"I'm going to keep going until my body says I can't do it anymore," she added.
To help cover the costs of competing in the Masters Team World Cup, Wright set up a GoFundMe fundraiser. Gymnasts are responsible for all costs, including travel, lodging and fees.
Wright hopes to inspire other adults to do what makes them happy. She is especially inspired by other adult gymnasts who are just starting out in the sport.
"Age is a number," she said. "It shouldn't define what you can and cannot do."