Brooklyn, NY — For some students, being flexible means being able to text-message and take notes at the same time.
But nineteen-year-old Olga Karmansky, ’09, takes it to a whole other level. Karmansky, of Seagate, Brooklyn, won the 2005 Pan American Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship all-around title in Vitória, Brazil, on November 13 and is currently the top-ranked rhythmic gymnast in the United States. In August the Brooklyn College freshman won the gold medal at the 2005 Visa national championships in Indianapolis, and in the past four years this petite athlete has competed in fourteen national and thirteen international competitions. She just missed going to the Olympics last year and was first alternate to Mary Sanders, who represented the United States in the rhythmic gymnastic competition in Athens.
In rhythmic gymnastics, athletes compete with five different apparatus—ball, hoop, rope, ribbon, and clubs—each requiring specific jumps, choreography, and skill. Rhythmic gymnastics has been an Olympic sport since 1984.
Born in Tiraspol, Moldova, Karmansky moved to New York with her parents when she was three and started training in rhythmic gymnastics at age eight. Her mother was a rhythmic gymnast in the former Soviet Union, so Karmansky had the chance to study the sport along with her other lessons in music, dance, swimming, and art.
But it was rhythmic gymnastics that seized her interest, and she worked hard to earn her success. “In the beginning, if I got fifth place, I thought that was great,” she says. At age fourteen, though, Karmansky wanted to pursue the sport seriously, and she and her parents decided that she would be schooled at home for high school to allow more time for training. Karmansky, who trains with coach Lucy Kerznerman at the Nova Athletics gym in Coney Island, is a disciplined athlete, and it was this focus that enabled her to enter—and succeed—in international competition.
“My parents never pushed or forced me to do well,” she says. “They only wanted me to compete as long as I liked it. But I’ve never put sports before education.”
Karmansky plans to continue her athletic career, at least for the near future, and next competes in the Pacific Alliance Championships in Hawaii in April. “I love traveling and performing,” she says. Despite being the first alternate for the 2004 Olympics, Karmansky has not yet committed to training for the 2008 Olympics.
“I don’t want gymnastics to be my only legacy,” says Karmansky, who says she has a lot of diverse interests, from business and politics to films, books, and media.
She’s especially glad to be a student at the Brooklyn College campus after spending four years being home schooled.
“I love Brooklyn College,” she says. “I came because I heard it was the Harvard for people on a budget.”
For more information about Olga Karmansky, including photographs of her rhythmic gymnastic routines, check out her Web site, www.olgak.com.