Oct. 25, 2012
Welcome to the Weekly Warmup! Each Thursday during the preseason, MGoBlue.com's Brad Rudner will sit down with each member of the University of Michigan women's gymnastics team to talk about the preseason training, last season's experience, and what lies ahead for the 2013 season.
This week's edition of the Weekly Warmup features junior Reema Zakharia (Miami, Fla.).
Brad: Can you put into words how excited you are for this season?
Reema: Personally, I am really fired up and pumped up. We want to show the nation that Michigan is back and that we're serious about going for the national championship.
Brad: Floor is one of those events that you shine on and take great pride in your performance. When you get out there and your music hits, what goes through your mind?
Reema: That I want to entertain the crowd and put on a good show for them. They are out there to support us and to support Michigan, so my goal is to make it fun for them while putting forth a good routine at the same time.
Brad: One very recognizable part of your floor routine last season was some Hispanic music. Where do you draw your inspiration for your gymnastics and does your nationality play a part?
Reema: I take a lot of pride in what I do. I'm passionate and have been that way since I was little. My Cuban coaches in club had a lot to do with it. They were passionate individuals. I try to translate that into my floor routine.
Brad: The team's motto that you've adopted this year is "Not Afraid of Success" -- how and why did you settle on that?
Reema: It started in the summer. We were definitely not satisfied with the season we had last year. We understand all the adversity we had to overcome that made the season so tough and difficult, but that's not what we want. We didn't want our season ending at Regionals. I remember Shannon asking Shelby and I on day, "Are you afraid of being successful?" We both said we weren't afraid. This summer we were doing everything possible to get where we wanted to be. That translated to this fall and I have to agree with the other girls, in that, we're in a totally different place than we've ever been before. We're a step ahead of the game. We will still peak at the right time, but mentally and physically, we are so much more prepared. We've taken this motto and adapted it to everything we do because we'll do whatever it takes to succeed.
Brad: You're from Miami and competed at Universal Gymnastics, the same club as U.S. men's gymnast Danell Leyva. What was it like sharing the space with him and then seeing him represent the U.S. at the Olympics?
Reema: I've known Danell since I was nine years old, so to see him compete at the Olympics was a total honor. He's one of my best friends. In club, we both had our bad days in the gym, days where we would struggle. Danell was always there ready to take on whatever assignment he had to do. It didn't matter if he was hurt. He still performed. Mentally, he's the strongest person I've ever met. Having him beside me always gave me a push. If I was struggling, I would look over to the other side of the gym and get motivated. Even if he was struggling too, he put 150 percent effort into everything he did, and that was just very motivating to see.