BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. — GAGE Center Coach and Owner Al Fong is turning local gymnasts into Olympians.
"We are extremely pleased and very proud as always. No matter if they do a good job, or don't do such a good job," Fong said, talking about his two female gymnasts who are competing this weekend in St. Louis at the gymnastics Olympic Trials.
"My first trials was in 1988 and then 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016. Six total," said Fong, who trains the athletes at his gym, GAGE Center, in Blue Springs.
But he doesn't do it alone – Fong's wife Armine is his right hand woman.
"When it comes down to the finer details, she is going to be an expert," Fong said. "Detail first for choreography, presentation, artistry and all of that. She's better at understanding the judging process."
But not every coach can say they have coached an Olympian, let alone several. So, what is his secret to success?
"I think it is culture," Fong said. "I think, first off, it has always been our goal to raise Olympians and drawn to a culture here that parents know and gymnasts know that if you want to be an Olympian, this is the place. We can't force them to do it. But we can be a vehicle for them."
Fong said he is proud of his two gymnasts who are competing for a spot on Team USA and is thankful to be their coach.
"Absolute role models for every girl," he said, "and then of course every gymnasts at GAGE that are striving to be an Olympian. Everybody loves gymnastics, these girls are just... they live it. They breathe it. They would like every mom would like to see their daughter become."