Talia gets her chance in the big apple
In June 2020, Women’s Artistic Gymnastics star, Talia Folino was set to pack her bags, bound to begin college life in the inaugural gymnastics program at the University of Long Island in New York City.
With the uncertainty and concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States at the time, Talia’s long-awaited trip was postponed – until now.
After 8 long months, Talia finally realised her dream and arrived in New York earlier this year.
Despite already attending university classes, albeit virtual and from 16,000km away at her Melbourne home, Talia was eager to make her mark at college, get to know her new teammates and impress on the gymnastics floor.
“I began studying online during the second lockdown in Melbourne, obviously the time difference wasn’t great, so the 4am classes weren’t fun, but I am so glad I did it.
“I am studying Physical Education and Health and am absolutely loving it.”
While Talia and her team navigated their way through what was undoubtedly one of the biggest decisions in her life, there were hiccups, moments of angst, and moments of excitement ahead of the move.
“I actually received my Visa in October, but it was too late to leave then, so my head coach and I decided late December would be best.
“When that time came around, things were changing day-by-day and we wanted to make sure it was the right decision, and most importantly, that I would be safe.
“We came together and decided it was best that I go so I could get a fresh start and make the most of the incredible opportunity.”
Having arrived in the United States several weeks ago, Talia has settled into her new life with teammates and coaches, something that she has waited more than eight months to do.
“I was most excited about meeting all my new teammates and coaches in person, it just wasn’t the same over Zoom.
“I actually surprised them on my arrival. Only the head coach and two of my teammates knew I was coming. It was so nice to see their reaction when I finally got there.”
With the East Atlantic Gymnastics League kicking off in mid-February, Talia has quickly settled in, meticulously preparing for training and events, with the same attitude that got her this opportunity originally.
“The schedule is pretty busy as the first two meets of the season in January and early February were cancelled due to COVID, so it’s getting pretty hectic trying to fit them all in.
“I’m not competing at the moment because of an eligibility issue, but we are getting that sorted now so I can begin competing, for now though, I am there for my team and supporting them as much as possible.
“I am so happy to be here and can’t wait to get started with competitions as soon as possible.”
Talia is certainly looking ahead to excel in her studies, but also continue making her mark on the international gymnastics stage.
“My goal first and foremost is to keep my GPA above a 3.75, keeping on top of my studies is really important.
“When it comes to gymnastics, I am hoping I can compete on all 4 apparatus to qualify for regionals in all-around, with the ultimate goal to win a NCAA title.
“I also can’t stop thinking about international competitions, making it to another World Championships is certainly a massive goal at the moment, but the 2024 Paris Olympic Games are certainly on the horizon.
“For now, though, I am prioritising myself and how I feel and just enjoying life in the United States. It’s so exciting and I can’t wait to see what unfolds.”