After years of hard work, Danvers gymnast headed to Olympics as alternate

Joe McConnell

Corrie Lothrop of Danvers has prepared for this moment her entire life, but the process is not over yet.

As a Level 10 elite gymnast, Lothrop made the senior national team at the Visa Championships in Boston last month. Her performance was so impressive that coach Marta Karolyi invited her to the Final Olympic Selection Camp in New Waverly, Texas, and there she continued to excel to make the 2008 U.S.A. Olympic team as an alternate.

The selection camp lasted four days, culminating Saturday, and coach Karolyi then announced the team in front of the group. For a while, Lothrop was left guessing when the veteran mentor almost forgot to mention the alternates.

“When she was telling some of us we had worked really hard and we are just young, she patted my head and said: ‘Oh, I forgot to say the alternates,’” Lothrop said.

And as it turned out that was probably the most agonizing part of the camp for Lothrop.

“The most difficult part was probably waiting for the selection committee to make their decision, and then seeing the faces of the girls who didn’t make it,” she said.

It was only four days, but this camp was like any other camp that Lothrop has attended over the years.

After breakfast, the gymnasts had a daily workout for three hours. It was then time to break for lunch. Another trip to the gym followed in the afternoon session for three more hours. After that, they recessed for dinner and a physical therapy session, if necessary.

Six girls made the actual Olympic team, and three more were alternates, including Lothrop. Three others left the camp disappointed, but determined to work even harder for the next time.

Just like the name implies, alternates are on standby, just in case.

“As an alternate, I will travel to Japan and train for a week until the competition starts,” Lothrop said. “If I’m needed for any reason, I have to take a three-hour plane ride over to China.”

All three alternates have various strengths to maintain the depth of the overall squad with talented replacements.

Lothrop is still on cloud nine; never thinking she could make this year’s team in any capacity.

“This selection really shocked me,” she said. “I thought I had a chance, but very slim because a lot of the girls have been to a World Championship or other big meets, and so I was the baby of the group, and I’m just so excited right now.”

Corrie’s parents, Don and Joan, owners of the Yellow Jackets Gymnastics Club of Middleton, is planning to celebrate this most extraordinary occasion with a vacation overseas next month.

“[Corrie] was put on the team as an alternate, because of her constant improvement and hard work,” Don said. “Joan and I are planning to go to Japan, and then take Corrie and her older sister, Christie, to their birth cities in Wuhan, China and Seoul, [South] Korea. It’s so close; we said why not.”

Growing up in Danvers on Damon Street, Corrie was 2 years old when the Lothrops adopted her from China. Christie was adopted from Korea when she was 3 months old.

It will be a frantic couple of weeks in August for Lothrop, but she has been waiting for this her entire life. Nonetheless, she will enjoy a well-deserve vacation following her Olympic adventure.

“After the Olympics, I’ll go on vacation to get my mind settled, and then I’ll probably start working on some new skills for next year,” she said.