Sara King Paves Her Own Way in Gymnastics

For recent Springfield graduate Sara King, both Judaism and gymnastics have taught her the importance of finding her own path. These being two large aspects of her life, yet not having a big community for either in Slovenia, has led her down a unique path—including stops across the United States, Israel, Taiwan and recently Algeria, where she finished 13th all-around at the Mediterranean Games. 

Major surgery had hindered her initial roadmap through the sport after she initially wanted to represent Slovenia at the Olympics. Recovery during her freshman season at Springfield proved to be a challenge but one that she notes as a big accomplishment in the sport for herself. While there are some skills she’ll never do post-surgery, she added, “I’ve been able to work my way around it and still show some competitive gymnastics.” That she has, solidifying herself as one of Springfield’s top bars and beam workers in her two collegiate seasons. 

As a sophomore, King slowly but surely acclimated to the energetic collegiate competition atmosphere. Once she found momentum she proved to be a key athlete, finishing her first competitive season with a third-place finish on beam at the NCGA-East regionals. Unfortunately, her junior year was cut short and her senior season was canceled entirely due to COVID. At the time she’d thought that “this was it for gymnastics,” but is now able to train again as she finds herself contributing as a key member of Team Slovenia. The National Team had been searching for athletes to be able to send full teams to international meets this year, and King fit the picture they wished to build. 

If you’d asked her as a child what her path through gymnastics would look like, King would share her hopes to compete at the Olympics, then compete for a Division I program and ultimately retire. In reality, her path seemed reversed: competing for Springfield and then returning to elite. “I kind of found my own way in gymnastics,” she said.

She strongly relates how she found unique successes in the sport to Judaism. There are many different ways to observe Judaism, through levels of following the religion or via regional cultural traditions. Every member of the ethnoreligion expresses their belonging in diverse ways.

King likens the multitude of ways to uphold Judaism to her unique journey through gymnastics, expressing contentment with where her individual journey has led her. “I didn’t reach the fulfillment I wanted with the sport. Then I did a bunch of meets over the summer, and it built into this realization that it’s OK,” she said. “I did find my own path, doing something for myself that is unique, and I’m just very happy with that.”

That journey will likely come to a close at the upcoming Summer Universiade, which for King will mark her third time at the competition. Her intention is to end her elite career at the student games after having attended in 2017 and 2019. Pair those with two successful showings at the Maccabiah Games, and she’s sure to end on a high.

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Article by Peri Goodman

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