When you talk about gymnastics, you have to talk about flying. All athletics rely, to some degree, on this sort of glittery hyperbole — be it the way runners or ski-jumpers or rowers discuss that strange and mysterious freedom that comes from physical mastery over your own body — but gymnastics is different. Unlike practically any other sport, its best-known athletes are almost exclusively young girls. And when they compete, their defiance of gravity represents more than just the years of training required to make stunts look effortless; it’s also the lift-off of the dream in the young women watching, who otherwise might rarely see themselves as being the marquee event at the elite levels of competitive sports.
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