Watkins Travels Far to Compete in Gymnastics


By WSIL Sports

ST. LOUIS -- Murphysboro native David Watkins was introduced to gymnastics when he was just 18 months old. Ever since then, the sport has played a major role in his life.

Each day when school is ending, Murphysboro junior David Watkins climbs into his car and leaves, but he isn't going home. He drives two and a half hours to the Saint Louis Gym Center for gymnastics practice. He makes this trip five days a week, year round.

"It has definitely taken some practice to get used to," said Watkins. "It is a two and a half hour drive one way and then a four hour practice and then a two and a half hour drive back. I usually get home at 11 or 11:30 plus homework."

"I've never heard or seen anything like that in this area," said St. Louis Gym Center men's head coach Mike Filla.
David is dedicated to the sport he loves, but it's not all about practice. He competes and recently participated in his second Junior Olympics. On day one, he qualified to compete in the rings and floor events. He finished in 23rd place in the rings and 18th in the floor event, while placing 37th overall in the nation. 

"It was really, really amazing and an awesome experience," said Watkins. "I am humbled by everyone that has been supporting me. I finished right around where I wanted to be and actually a little bit higher than where I wanted to be. I was very happy with how I did."

During his final year of competition at the high school level, David is focused on improving in each event, as well as earning a college scholarship.

"That has got to be one of the main drives that keeps me in the sport and keeps it interesting and keeps me going," said Watkins. "Just that final goal of getting that college scholarship."

"I think that is something that is achievable for David," said Filla. "It is something that he will be working hard towards this summer and all next season."

David hopes to return to the Junior Olympics next May and compete in the all-around, but as for now, the long trips to Missouri continue.

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