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July 17, 1987 - Image 38

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-07-17

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Gymnast Dana Dobransky
sets her sights on
the 1988 Olympics


Special to The Jewish News

At age 13, Dana Dobransky was
the gymnastics champion at the all-
around world Maccabiah Games. At
14, she attained Elite Class status,
the highest ranking in world gym-
nastics. This year, at 15, she placed
sixth in the U.S. Classic gymnastics
competition, and tenth at the Golden
Sands event in Varna, Bulgaria,
where she also won a "Miss Con-
geniality"-type award. Last month,
the Sterling Heights native earned a
berth on the national team by plac-
ing 18th at the United States Gym-
nastics Championships in Kansas
Until this year, Dana's only inter-
national experience came in the 1985
Maccabiah Games in Israel. She won
three of the four individual events
(vaulting, balance beam and floor ex-
ercises), placed second on the uneven
parallel bars and won the overall
gymnastics title.
During a recent workout, prior to
the U.S. championships, Dana —
dressed in blue shorts and a Bon Jovi
T-shirt — described her experience in
Israel. "The people that ran the meet
were very, very good. They were so
nice. And after, everyone came up to
me and asked for my autograph and
asked my address and things like
that And I got a chance to be on
television over there, and that was in-
teresting. They put me in the middle
of a cartoon show. It was just neat how
people respected me, and even if I
didn't do good, they still respected
Dana displays much more poise
and self-confidence in an interview
situation than a typical 15-year-old,
something that undoubtedly comes
from performing a solo sport in front
of judges and audiences of various
sizes for nine years. Speaking with
her, it is difficult to picture her get-
ting nervous at the Maccabiah
Games. "The first event I was jittery
on, but then after the competition got


FRIDAY, JULY 17, 1987



Dana Dobransky: "You have to decide if you want to go all the way."

going it was a lot, lot better. And peo-
ple were on my side. At first, you
know, it was a light clapping, and
then they started to see that I was do-
ing better, it was like, 'Come on
Dana!' And I look over and there'd be
someone I didn't know!'
Dana stayed with an Israeli fami-
ly, and felt comfortable, she says,
although she felt the country was
very different from the U.S. "There
were some real pretty, pretty things.
I don't speak very good Hebrew at all,
and I didn't understand everything

that was going on, but it was
beautiful. Everything was so clean. I
got to go to the Western Wall, and I
stuck a little piece of paper in the lit-
tle cracks!'
She has not returned to Israel
since, but may participate in the 1989
Maccabiah Games.
Dobransky speaks decisively, with
poise and insight, about her career in
gymnastics. She practically grew up
in a gym. Her mother, Judy — herself
an Elite-Class gymnastics judge —
has been a dance consultant in the

gymnastics field since 1973. She us-
ed to bring Dana with her to the
Bloomfield Hills gym run by gym-
nastics coach Steve Whitlock, in lieu
of hiring a babysitter, and Dana
quickly became interested in the
sport. Dana began to compete at age
seven, and soon became one of
Whitlock's pupils.
While seven-year-old Dana won
several events, instant stardom was
not forseen by anyone. "I remember
a meet;' she recalls. "It was one of my
first meets, and I get a 1.7 on bars,
and I took second place. I stuck my
beam (performed the routine proper-
ly) . . . and I totally forgot my floor
routine. And I'm out in the middle of
the floor crying, not knowing. I've
never forgotten since then. I've always,
made sure I know where to go for my
floor exercise."
Dobransky advanced quickly. She
began sanctioned competition at age
nine, at the Class-III level. She mov-
ed to Class-II at 11, Class-I at 12 and
hit the Elite level at 14.
Each level represents an increas-
ing amount of work, and a decision to
dedicate oneself to gymnastics at the
cost of what is generally perceived as
a normal childhood. Says Dana,
"Once you get into a level, once you
get into the sport, you have to decide
if you want to go all the way. Because
there's a lot of commitment, and
there's a lot of things you have to give
up, but there's a lot of things that you
get back, too. With the Elite, you have
to come in every day, you have to train
four, five hours a day, or you won't be
the best, or you won't be at the top
(level) — not even the best!"
She feels her sacrifice most, when,
for example, "your friends will say,
`Let's go out tonight; when you know
that the next day you have to go train
and you can't do that. But there's a lot
of times when I've just said, 'OK, I've
got to have some social life,' so I'll just
go out and have some fun. But I'll
never regret having to give up certain
things . . . if I had to go back I'd never
want to change anything?'
Continued on Page 40

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