AUBURN, Wash. — Shilese Jones may just be the next big thing in gymnastics, and she was three world championship medals to show for it.
Jones returned to Ascend Gymnastics in Auburn this week after spending several weeks competing at the World Gymnastic Championships in Liverpool, England, where she helped Team USA clinch the team competition and earned silver medals in the all-around competition and the uneven bars competition.
"It feels amazing, you know I've been in the gym since I was a little girl, dreaming of this dream for so long now, so to finally have it in my hands, around my neck feels amazing," Jones said.
Jones was one of five women chosen from across the country to compete for Team USA. Coach Sarah Korngold says the nine days of competition gave Jones the opportunity to showcase her many talents.
"As a coach, I see how hard she works every day and I see her do it successfully every day and I know how much she puts into it so to then watch her go out, and do it again in front of the judges and in front of the fans was really rewarding because you just know that she's earned it, she's put in all this time and to do it for herself was so, so satisfying," Korngold said.
Jones says her favorite event is the uneven bars.
“I'm very tall and it’s very difficult so I really like to push myself and it’s just my favorite,” said Jones. She says her coaches, family and community made all of the hard work worthwhile and couldn’t be more proud to return with world medals.
Ascend Gymnastics said they expect Jones's success will make the sport more popular locally, and they hope more young gymnasts will decide to stay local.
“So many young athletes think they need to move to Texas or somewhere that they think will be more competitive, but we are proving it’s not about the location, it’s about the talent and passion,” Korngold said.
Jones says her sights are now set on the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
“Coming home with these medals is just the first step, and next up is the Olympics.”