Hawaii's next Olympian: gymnast Josh Yee

Hawaii's next Olympian: gymnast Josh Yee
Josh Yee
Josh Yee
Mike Yee
Mike Yee

By Mike Cherry - bio | email

MILILANI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Yee family has a tradition and you could say it's taking off. It's thanks in large part to 14-year old Josh Yee. The Mililani-teen hit the gymnastics mat when he was one. It was an easy choice since his mother and two-older brothers were already training. As far back as he can remember, Josh says he gravitated towards one particular event --the high bar.

"There's like a lot of adrenaline. Twirling yourself is just fun. It may be scary but once you do it you just want to do it over and over," Yee said. "When I was a kid and got serious about gymnastics, it was in hour long class and I only came in for a few minutes, and for that 15-minutes it was high bar."

Those 15-minutes have turned into a love affair that's spanned nearly 15-years. Josh is considered a "level-10" gymnast. Simply put he's one step below an elite athlete. That title is reserved for Olympians. At times even his mother Lori can't believe how far he's come.

"He's changed a lot. He used to be that little kid in the gym who loves to flip, wasn't real serious and he loved it. Now it's a little more serious," Mother Lori Yee said.

In 2007 Josh qualified for the Junior Olympic National tournament for the first time and found himself among hundreds of the nations best.

"First time there I didn't do so well. I realized how serious the sport was and that kind of motivated me to work harder," he said.

Like a lot of teens, Josh spends a lot of time surfing the web; except when he does so, it's usually to scout his competition.

"Every night I'm on YouTube just searching their names and just watching gymnastics. I talk to them about stuff they're doing like on Facebook and stuff. I try to out do them. I come into the gym and try to be better then them," he said.

Josh can laugh at the method now, but it's worked. In 2009 he finished 8th at the Junior Nationals in the high bar. It's the highest any male Hawaii gymnast has placed in the competition. Most impressive he did it without a coach. Instead Josh relied on the guidance of his older brother Mike.

"It really motivated him and he just started working harder and he came in here everyday working his hardest which, I talk a lot about him to my friends and students and even my students and use him as an example for them to work harder," Brother Mike Yee said.

While he dreams of competing on the Olympic stage, Josh's immediate goals are a little more down to earth.

"I want to get a scholarship to a college, I'm not sure which college yet. I want to go to that college for 4-years and then I'll train for World's and the Olympics," Josh said.

Josh may not know where he'll end up just yet, but rest assured he'll definitely land on his feet.

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