Natasha Kelley


Natasha Kelley
Natasha Kelley
Country represented  United States
Born January 1, 1990 (1990-01-01) (age 21)
Hometown Baton Rouge, LA
Discipline Women's artistic gymnastics
Level Senior
Club Cypress Gymnastics

Natasha Kelley (born January 1, 1990 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana) is an American gymnast. Currently residing in Texas, she trains at Stars Gymnastics but has announced she will no longer compete as an elite athlete, but rather will plan to compete in collegiate competition soon. Kelley was a member of the silver medal winning U.S. team at the 2006 World Championships, along with Chellsie Memmel, Alicia Sacramone, Jana Bieger, Nastia Liukin and Ashley Priess.

Early gymnastics and junior career

At the start of her gymnastics career, Kelley went to Elite gymnastics in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She not only did gymnastics there, but she was also homeschooled there until she left. Kelley competed there for many years before moving to Brown's Gymnastics in Houston, Texas. After moving to Brown's, she moved again to Star's gymnastics, also in Texas. As a junior, Kelley's major accomplishment was winning the U.S. National title in 2005 - the previous year she had been in 7th, so this was a considerable improvement. Internationally, she also competed at the Junior Pan American Games in 2004.

Senior career

Kelley became a senior in 2006, as she turned 16 that year. In her first major domestic competition as a senior, the U.S. Classic, she placed first (tie with Ashley Priess). After this, she was the runner-up behind Nastia Liukin at the national championships, in the All Around and on bars and beam. These strong performances at home won Kelley a spot on the U.S. team for the World Championships, but she did not fare quite so well there. Kelley sustained an injury in practice to her mouth and lips after crashing into the bar on a hindorff release and continued to have problems with hitting her routines. Mistakes in the qualification rounds meant that she was not selected to compete for the U.S. in the team final, and neither had she qualified to any individual finals. The U.S. had entered the competition as favorites to retain the title they won in 2003, but injuries to several team members hampered their performance. There were several mistakes from the four athletes who had been chosen to provide all the routines in the team final, while Kelley and her teammate Ashley Priess could only watch. Nevertheless, won a silver medal as a part of the U.S. team. The team's woes were further compounded when reigning World Champion Chellsie Memmel withdrew from the competition entirely after the team event. This did however give Kelley a chance to replace her in the floor final, where she performed well and placed a respectable seventh.

After the 2006 U.S. National championships, Kelley's level of difficulty on the uneven bars had decreased. That and her problems on beam at the 2006 World Championships made her less valuable to the U.S. team. (Bars and beam were the two events where Kelley had a remarkably high difficulty level or Start Value (the A Score as it became known in 2006. Kelley's beam routine contained, for example, some of the hardest acrobatic manuveurs, a standing tucked full and a standing Arabian). Kelley nevertheless was selected to compete at the 2007 American Cup where she missed bars but hit beam. The 2007 U.S. Nationals effectively marked the end of Kelley's elite career. At those nationals, she was recovering from several injuries, including a twisted ankle and a tweaked elbow. There, she was penalized harshly for her form errors and placed too low to be seriously considered for the World Championship team.

Within months of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Kelley announced that she had retired from elite gymnastics and would focus on an upcoming collegiate gymnastics career.

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