Every four years, sports fans focus their attention on the Summer Olympics. Few Olympic sports attain greater status than gymnastics. While competing gymnasts perform magical and difficult moves all the time, their performances during the Olympics help them gain an exalted spot on the sports ladder. Here are five gymnastic movies that not only highlight athletic talent but also show the pain of flexibility.
"American Anthem" (1986)
When Julie (Janet Jones) starts training to become a world class gymnast, Steve (Mitch Gaylord) is impressed and inspired to resume his own training. As Julie and Steve cross paths and become involved with each other, both have goals to make the U.S. Olympic team by succeeding at the Olympic Trials. Jones would later go on to marry hockey great Wayne Gretzky, who noticed her after watching her performance in this film.
"The Gymnast" (2006)
Jane Hawkins (Dreya Weber) is a top gymnast who is on track to have a brilliant career until she is overwhelmed by injury and she can no longer compete at the highest level. She starts to feel sorry for herself and begins to languish until she realizes that she can still perform, even if it is not at the highest level. She takes her talent to Cirque du Soleil and she once again begins to love her sport.
"Little Girls in Pretty Boxes" (1997)
This film is an adaptation of the book written by San Francisco Chronicle reporter Joan Ryan, who looked at the lives of young gymnasts and figure skaters and examined the work and sacrifice needed to be successful in their respective sports. In the film, Katie Bryant (Courtney Peldon) and her family move to Los Angeles so she can be on the fast track towards gymnastic advancement. The film looks at the abuse – starving herself, using painkillers and intimidating coaches –that young gymnasts often face.
This made-for-TV movie looks at the rise of Nadia Comaneci from an obscure Romanian child to the world’s best gymnast. Comaneci (Marcia Frederick) and her coach Bela Karolyi (Joe Bennett) dominated the 1976 Montreal Olympics and that allowed her to become a star on the world stage.
"Stick It" (2006)
Haley Graham (Missy Peregrym) is a young, former gymnast who gets into trouble with the law. She becomes something of a juvenile delinquent and is ordered by the court to return to her sport because it will keep her from being idle, which is the source of her trouble. While she hates this at first and has many problems with her teammates, her coach Burt Vickerman (Jeff Bridges) knows how to get the best out of her and put her on a much more respectable path.