Icelandic team standout Thelma Rut Hermannsdottir said international gymnastics bonds keep her motivated at age 19. Pictured: Hermannsdottir (second from left) poses with Gerpla teammates Birgitta Run Gudmundsdottir, Dora Gudmundsdottir and Harpa Steindorsdottir.
After a five-week stint with the Olympic News Service in London, IG's John Crumlish made a pit stop in Iceland, where Icelandic team standout Thelma Rut Hermannsdottir said international gymnastics bonds keep her motivated at age 19.
"I like flying around and doing stuff that nobody else can do," said Hermannsdottir during a training break at Gerpla Gymnastics Club, the country's largest gym, in the Reykjavik suburb of Kopavogur. "That's the thing. I like the friendship between all of us teammates. It's amazing. We've been friends since we were five years old, and it's going to last a lifetime. Everyone is so close."
Hermannsdottir, who is coached by Gudmundor Brynjolfsson, competed at the past three world championships. Despite her modest international results, she says her gymnastics friendships make competing worthwhile.
"I've made so many friends here in Iceland and in other countries when I'm traveling," she says. "I have a friend in Egypt, Poland, the Nordic countries and all over the world."
Hermannsdottir said she was particularly excited to contact her friend, Mexican gymnast Alexa Moreno, when Moreno competed in the vault final at the 2011 Worlds.
"When Alexa qualified, I was like, 'Oh, she's my friend!' Hermannsdottir said. "I was texting her and telling her, ''Good luck.' I know some Spanish so I was trying to speak some Spanish to her, too. It's amazing, and the friendships are what's kept me in gymnastics for so long."
Hermannsdottir said she hopes to find work at Woodward Gymnastics Camp in Pennsylvania next summer with Gerpla teammate Dora Gudmundsdottir, who spent the past school year as an exchange student in Cincinnati.
Although Hermannsdottir is considering a career in dentistry, she wants to stay professionally involved in gymnastics.
"I will always have a part-time job coaching, and hope to have a background at Woodward that's shown me how to train gymnasts," she told IG.