Olympic Gold Medalist Kyla Ross was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to Jason and Kiana Ross. Her father is black and Japanese and her mother is Filipino and Puerto Rican. She has two younger siblings and attends Aliso Niguel High School in Aliso Viejo, California.
Ross’s mother, Kiana, said that she was always very strong with a lot of energy, “She was born with muscles. We would go to the park and everybody would say ‘Whose baby is on top of that jungle gym?’ And I would say ‘Oh, that’s my baby. Don’t worry about her, she’s fine.'” Her father, Jason, added, “It would use all my effort to get her to sit in her car seat, and I’m a pretty big guy, a strong guy. When she was born, we were like, ‘Oh my God, she has triceps, she has quads hanging off her. What the heck’s going on?’ And she was just super strong. I mean, at an early age, she was able to walk across the monkey bars, just hanging herself.”
Ross began gymnastics when she was three years old at Greenville Gymnastics Training Center in South Carolina and later trained at Richmond Olympiad and National Gymnastics Training Center before moving to Gym-Max Gymnastics in Costa Mesa, California in 2005. Her coach, Jenny Zhang was skeptical about Ross’s future in gymnastics. She said, “She had this square body, no legs, square shoulders. Howie (Liang) said ‘Don’t worry about her. She will have long legs.'”
Kyla Ross was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the rest of the USA Women’s Olympic Gymnastics team on the July 18, 2012 issue of Olympic Preview. This marked the first time an entire Olympic gymnastics team had been featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney have been best friends since they were three years old. They both train at Gym-Max in Costa Mesa, California. Jenny Zhang and Howie Liang are Kyla’s coaches. Howie’s son Lenny runs Gym-Max and has known the girls for years. The two of them are incredible. Watch this video!
In October, Ross competed at the 2013 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Antwerp, Belgium. In the all-around final, Ross started on vault, she did a double twisting yurchenko (15.366). On bars, she performed cleanly (15.100). On beam, she finished strong with a double tuck dismount (14.533). On floor, Ross showed a beautiful routine to finish with 14.333 for the silver medal (59.332). She scored 15.266 and finished in second place in the uneven bars final, behind Huang Huidan. Ross was also awarded the Longines Prize for Elegance along with Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura, an award given to the male and female gymnast who has displayed the most charisma, charm, and elegance as determined by a voting jury.
Kyla receiving her Prize for Elegance award!
Kyla is in the middle of training for the gymnastic’s American Cup and took some time out of her busy schedule to chat with us!
ASIANCE: Who decides who rooms with whom on trips to competitions?
Kyla: Marta usually decides who rooms with whom at competitions.
ASIANCE: Are you planning on being in the mix for the 2016 Olympics?
Kyla: Yes. I usually try to take it year by year.
ASIANCE: How do you handle school and homework with all the training and traveling?
Kyla: I have to be honest, it is very challenging for me to stay on track with school work when I’m traveling. School is something very important to me because I’m still going to go to college.
ASIANCE: You grew up with McKayla Maroney. Do you have any funny stories to tell about her?
Kyla: It’s hard to think of only one story because we have so many stories together since we have known each other for so long. I remember once at a competition when we were about 7 years old, we were supposed to be warming up for Bars, but we heard “The Chicken Dance” song come on, and we just started dancing!
ASIANCE: Which Country – besides the USA – has the friendliest gymnastics team?
Kyla: The Canadian and Great Britain teams were really nice because we spoke the same language.
Here is Kyla on Beam at World’s in Antwerp last month. Amazing!
Kyla on Floor
Kyla on Bars
Kyla on Vault
ASIANCE: What kind of skill upgrades are you working on for bars and beam?
Kyla: On bars, I’m working to connect my “Pak-Salto to Shaposh-Half.” On beam, I’ve been working “Split-Ring” and also “Back-Handspring-Arabian.”
ASIANCE: Simone Biles mentioned that Marta Karolyi scares her more than the judges. Do you feel the same way?
Kyla: I don’t think Marta scares me more than the Judges but I do feel that having her watch my routines in practice makes me feel more pressured to do my very best.
ASIANCE: What was your reaction to the racially offensive comments directed at your teammate Simone Biles by a couple of the Italians?
Kyla: I was offended by the racial comments by the Italians because I know Simone deserved every medal she earned at Worlds.
ASIANCE: Now that you have already competed at your 1st Worlds competition and won 3 Medals, what is your next goal going forward?
Kyla: My next goal is to have a good competition at American Cup and to hopefully have added some of my upgrades that I have been working into my routines.
ASIANCE: Have you and McKayla ever talked to each other about the possibility of going to the Olympics together again?
Kyla: McKayla and I haven’t talked too much about going to the next Olympics together, but I know we were happy to have gone to World Championships together and hopefully we can be a part of the Worlds Team together next year.
ASIANCE: Which gymnast have you looked up to or career you followed?
Kyla: Throughout my career I really looked up to Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin because they were both very good all-around gymnasts with their own personal styles. Now with my long lines, I have been compared to Nastia which is a huge complement to me.
ASIANCE: Is there anything that you would personally like to see improved in your performance?
Kyla: Over the past year, I really wanted to become a strong competitor and I think I saw myself improve at the World Championships.
ASIANCE: Are any of your other siblings or family involved in gymnastics?
Kyla: I don’t have any siblings or even cousins involved in gymnastics. My family is on the taller side so most of my family plays other sports.
ASIANCE: Any advice to girls wanting to be a gymnast like you?
Kyla: My advice to young gymnasts is to always have fun in training and try your best. Also, you should always have a goal in mind and try to work hard towards it every day.