gymnastics floor mat

Heart pounding, you step out into the center of the arena and take your place on the far corner of the floor mat, the way you’ve seen gymnasts do on TV. Your mind is blank—you have no idea how you are going get through this. Then the music starts.

As the intoxicating melody of “Carmen Suite No. 2” blares over the speakers, you feel as if the music is taking over your body. The castanets begin clicking, and you find yourself sprinting across the mat as fast as you can. Then with a twist of your body you are in the air—flipping over and over, until you land on your feet to a roar of applause. You’ve just done a backwards double tuck rebound with a double front twist!

But you don’t pause to enjoy it. You are already down on the ground, doing The Worm. The crowd is going wild.

You smoothly transition from The Worm into The Sprinkler, but you can sense that the music is wrapping up. You just enough time for one more tumbling pass.

You moonwalk back into the corner of the mat, and then you start running again. You feel as if you are flying—and then you really are flying, twisting in the air and landing, and then rebounding backwards in another double flip. The music stops, and you throw back your head and thrust your hands into the air.

The crowd roars its approval. You walk to the sidelines in a daze, and you are almost tackled by your coach as he runs up to hug you.

“You’ve just won the gold!” he says.