Since the age of 3, Moscow native Katya Yevchenko has been practicing gymnastics professionally with some of the best coaches and master programs in Russia.
She has just finished first grade at K12 International Academy (iCademy) and won first place in her very first regional competition at the Open Tournament of Moscow.
“I was feeling very, very proud and happy,” Katya said. “I realized that hard work pays off! After every competition, especially when I’m on the podium, I say to myself that I want to work more and more. I want to achieve more goals and win more competitions to stay on the podium.”
Katya practices six or seven days a week, two or three times a day. She is enrolled in her local gymnastics school, Pirouette, and has individual trainings.
“She is always busy,” said her mother, Elena Zhuravleva. “However, K12 learning is very flexible; it perfectly fits Katya’s schedule. Sometimes she studies before training in the mornings at 7 a.m., and sometimes she studies in the evenings.”
Katya enrolled at iCademy two years ago when she was five years old. Online school has not only been a huge help for her gymnastics practice schedule, but also to develop her English.
Russian is Katya’s first language, and her mother appreciates how the K12 program can help her learn English effectively, even if it is a challenge. She wants Katya to develop her English skills in preparation for an American college in the future.
“While studying, she is integrated into the English language environment, and she learns language very effectively,” Elena said. “There are many more great things about this program, such as stimulating students’ creativity and developing analytical skills. It is the perfect environment for learning the material.”
“I really like working on a computer because I don’t like working on paper,” Katya said. “This is much more interesting for me, and the process is more engaging than studying in a ‘usual’ school.”
Katya specializes in rhythmic gymnastics, which is a more artistic approach to the sport. She performs with music and objects like an apparatus, ball, hoop, or jump rope.
“We have some similarity in our training to regular gymnastics, like stretching and acrobatics, but the rest is quite different,” Katya said. “Regular gymnasts perform their exercises without music and with a balance beam or gymnastics bars.”
This season, all of Katya’s competitions were held in Russia. As Katya’s professional level grows, next season she will take part in competitions in other parts of Europe and the United States.
Katya was able to participate in a master class with former European, World, and Olympic champion Anna Gavrilenko.
“I spent a week in the city of Chekhov,” Katya said. “It was very hard for me, because I had to work for 6-8 hours every day. I learned several secrets as to how to perform hard elements from Anna Gavrilenko, and she helped me to do a very hard performance program with a hoop. I am still learning it and will perform it in the next season.”
Katya is currently in a special training program with the coach of the Russian National Team.
“With so many talented and prominent people surrounding me, I try to learn as much from them as I possibly can,” Katya said. “I am enrolled in a special program in the city Nizhny Novgorod. It is very interesting but very hard. We spend eight hours working and we have physical training, choreography, group exercises, working with apparatus, working on jumps and other elements, dances, and jogging. I am also working personally on my program 1.5 hours a day. I am very proud that I am working on the same carpet with the trainers who trained (2016 gold medalist) Margarita Mamun and other Olympic champions.”
In September, Katya will start first grade at a local Russian school and begin second grade at iCademy. Even with her busy schedule, she has a few short-term goals set for herself this year: taking more piano lessons and competing in more gymnastics competitions outside of Russia. Her long-term goal is to become a Master of Sports and become one of the best gymnasts in the world!
“Gymnastics makes me feel beautiful and strong, and develops my diligence and patience,” Katya said. “I know that even if I can’t do something right now, I definitely could do it if I continue to practice and work hard.”