'My dream is to go to the Olympics': Local gymnast makes national team
Taniah Tomlinson is full of personality, spunk and talent. A gymnast and self-proclaimed ‘military brat,’ the seven-year-old has become one of only 50 girls her age nationwide to get into the USA Gymnastics Talent Opportunity Program (TOPs).
“The USAG TOPs program tests strength and flexibility in gymnasts,” said Taniah’s mother Courtnie. “They start from the age of seven and every year they test. If the club thinks you are ready, and you pass, your results get sent to USAG.”
With Taniah in the youngest age category and competing against girls across the nation, Courtnie said she was blown away by the fact that Taniah made the team.
“She is one of the strongest seven-year-olds in the United States, and the only one from her gym to make the national team,” she said.
So just how strong is Taniah?
The TOPs test consists of several strength and flexibility challenges including:
Twenty horizontal leg lifts (while hanging on a bar), a 12-foot rope climb (sans use of legs), performing a cast to handstand move on a bar, and holding a handstand for 30 seconds.
“Her strength is amazing,” said Courtnie. “She went above and beyond on her rope climb.”
Taniah said her love for gymnastics started at age two, but her mother remembers a crazy stunt her daughter pulled a year before that confirmed her gymnastic future.
“When she was one, she wedged herself into a doorway,” said Courtnie. “She had to extend her hands and legs to do it and she went all the way to the top of the door, held on to the doorframe and hung there. She said, ‘I’m a spider monkey,’ and I said, ‘No you’re a chimpanzee and I’m taking you to gymnastics.’”
Now a member of the TOPs Diamond Team, Taniah will be taking part in a special training camp next summer. In the meantime, she has joined the Destin gym U.S. Gold Gymnastics and will begin competitions in level six this coming winter.
“I thought it would be hard for her to move,” Courtnie said, adding that the family has moved from Georgia to Hawaii to Florida in less than seven years. “Speaking with other gymnasts who move around, it is actually better for her to practice in different gyms. Since being at U.S. Gold for only seven days, she has already improved her form.”
As for Taniah, she wants to go all the way with her gymnastics career.
“My dream is to go to the Olympics,” she said. “I want to go to the Olympics when I’m 14 like Dominique Moceanu.”
Even with her strong dedication to gymnastics, Taniah said she still enjoys just being a kid.
“I like modeling, acting, dancing, singing, jumping and flipping,” she said. “I like smiling a lot and playing in the water.”
When asked what she would say to other kids interested in gymnastics Taniah didn’t skip a beat.
“Always follow your dreams,” she said. “Never give up.”
Follow Taniah’s gymnastics journey on