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Plum student inspired by meeting with Olympic gymnasts

| Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 10:29 p.m.
Gymnastics is near and dear to Maddie Knisely, 9, a third-grader at Pivik Elementary School in the Plum School District. She performed with Olympic gymnasts in the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2012 Kellogg’s Tour of Olympic Champions at the Consol Energy Center. Submitted photo

Maddie Knisely watched in fascination as the 2012 U.S. Olympic gymnastics team won gold medals during the summer games in London.

The sport is near and dear to Knisely, 9, a third-grader at Pivik Elementary School.

The youngster has studied gymnastics for four years and is a student at Gymkhana in Monroeville.

Knisely performed in the 2012 Kellogg's Tour of Olympic Champions at the Consol Energy Center earlier this month.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for her at 9,” said her mother, Nicole Knisely.

Maddie Knisely describes the experience — in which she met some top athletes — as “fun and exciting.”

“We talked about how tough it was to be in the Olympics and how much practice you needed to do,” she said.

The national tour features Team USA's top performing gymnasts in men's and women's rhythmic and acrobatic gymnastics and trampoline and tumbling.

Maddie was one of eight gymnasts from the Monroeville Gymkhana randomly selected to participate in the event.

Knisely, whose father, Jason, 39, is the principal at Adlai Stevenson Elementary School, participated in a dance routine during the opening ceremony and remained on stage as the Olympic gymnasts were introduced, said Nicole Knisely, 38.

Maddie met some of the gymnasts including Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber and McKayla Maroney in the locker room prior to the performance.

“They talked about what it was like to be a gymnast, and Maddie got pictures of them,” Nicole Knisely said.

Maddie Knisely participated in one rehearsal earlier on the same day of the Nov. 16 show.

The youngster said she enjoys gymnastics — including the nearly 10 hours of practice each week.

“I like the power you use when you are going into the (moves and routines),” she said.

Knisely said she aspires to be a collegiate gymnast.

In addition to gymnastics classes, she participated in the Panther Gymnastics Camp at the University of Pittsburgh over the summer.

“She is pretty intense about everything she does,” Nicole Knisely said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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