Skip to main content

NCAA Athletes Who Went Elite

Lots of former elite gymnasts move on to the world of NCAA gymnastics, but very few go from the college world to the elite scene.

Here are four athletes who embarked on the elite path after their NCAA careers.



Anna Li, UCLA

2012 Olympic Alternate and 2011 World Champion, Anna Li is the daughter of Chinese Olympians Wu Jiani and Li Juejiu. She competed as an elite in 2004 and 2005 before she went to UCLA. In 2010, she and the Bruins won the NCAA national team title. After graduating, Anna decided to embark on an elite career and make a go for the Olympics. In 2011, she made the World Championship team as an alternate and was put on the team after Alicia Sacramone tore her Achilles tendon. In 2012, she was named as a replacement athlete to the US Olympic team. She currently is coaching at her parent's gym, Legacy Elite. Anna is known for her ridiculous difficulty on the uneven bars.











Casey Jo Magee, Arkansas

After a successful career at the University of Arkansas, Casey decided to make a go at an elite career. She moved to Austin, Texas after graduation and started training. She went elite in 2011 and made the national team. She currently brings her gymnastics knowledge to her athletes at the University of Missouri where she is an assistant coach.












Vanessa Zamarrippa, UCLA

Vanessa had a stellar career as a UCLA Bruin, helping the Bruins to a sixth national championship title in 2010. That same year, she decided to make a go for the US National team. This means pulling out a Cheng vault and making the national team after placing 8th in the all-around. Just another day in the life of a gymnastics unicorn.











Mohini Bhardwaj, UCLA

Mohini's story spans a decade and three olympic cycles and involves a celebrity fairy godmother. Like Anna Li, she started out in elite, went to compete for UCLA for her NCAA career and came back as an elite to make the 2004 Olympic Team and won a silver medal. She was the gymnastics wild child. She moved to Houston at 16 to train with legendary coach, Alexander Alexandrov but being a teenager on her own, Mohini felt that partying was way more fun than gymnastics. She competed at the Olympic trials in 1996 and missed making the team by .075 She competed for Team USA at the 1997 World Championships and placed sixth in the team final and  5th in the vault final. By the time she graduated from college, she'd stopped partying like it was 1999 and led the Bruins to two national titles in 2000 and 2001. Individually, she took home the NCAA all-around title in 1999 and titles on all four events. She made her elite comeback in 2001, but now as an adult athlete, she found the cost of her dream daunting, taking odd jobs to pay the bills. Inspired by her story, Pamela Anderson of Baywatch fame, sponsored Mohini with a $20,000 grant. In 2004, Mohini was named to the US Olympic team going to the Athens Olympics and was also named as their team captain. She currently has a skill named for her in the current code of points, a full twisting Pak Salto, rated an "E" valued at 0.5.











Popular posts from this blog

Maddie Desch Retires From Elite

Yesterday, US gymnast Maddie Desch announced her retirement from elite gymnastics via her Instagram account.

Maddie, who trains at Great American Gymnastics Express, aka "GAGE" explained she came to the decision to retire due to a nagging injury that prevented her from training at the elite level.

Aliya Mustafina Is Pregnant

After two Olympics, and basically supporting the Russian gymnastics team on her back, Aliya Mustafina is going to be a mother.