Before discovering gymnastics, Kathy Johnson ran track and was quite good at it. She was so good, in fact, that for a time she thought she might become a track and field Olympian.

It’s not unusual for athletes to explore other hobbies and interests before settling on their specialty. But for most elite gymnasts, the period “before gymnastics” isn’t long enough to do much else. They typically start very young and specialize very soon — as early as 4 years old, with more advanced training and competition around age 7 — and devote all their time outside school to the sport, to the exclusion of essentially everything else. Read More