Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Corrie Lothrop came so close to getting to the Olympics. She made it to Japan, while the U.S. gymnastics team was competing in Beijing.
"I was in Japan for a week. That's where they put the alternates, and if they needed us, they would fly us to China, which they ended up not needing us. It was still a great experience," said the freshman, who, coming back from a torn Achilles, has emerged as third-ranked Utah's top all-arounder this season.
No. 8 Michigan visits Utah tonight at 7 in the Huntsman Center for Short People Appreciation Night, when anyone the same height or shorter than the 5-foot-tall gymnast cutouts at the entrances will receive free admission good for upper-bowl seating.
Lothrop is 5-foot-1.
She and junior Stephanie McAllister were both sick earlier in the week, but coach Greg Marsden said after practice Thursday that both were better and are expected to compete, though they might have to water down a few things tonight.
"It was my first year being a senior in the elite world," Lothrop recalled of her almost-Olympic moment, "so I had barely no experience overseas.
"Just to be an alternate was an honor, and I loved every moment of it."
For Lothrop, born in China but adopted by parents from Massachusetts, Joan and Don Lothrop, the real goal was more to be good enough to earn a college scholarship at a top gymnastics school. She considered Alabama and Stanford but, after two unofficial visits to Utah, she felt she fit in best here.
Her parents had paid for her older sister, adopted from Korea, to attend college, and Corrie didn't want to burden them further. She got her Utah scholarship before tearing the Achilles tendon while training in July 2009.
And nearly making the Olympics? "It was a bonus, definitely," Lothrop said. "With the lack of experience that I had going into the whole Olympic process, I was just surprised with myself that I made it as far as I did."
As she progressed after the Olympics, she competed for America in Argentina, Belgium, Germany and France.
"I think the Olympics set me up to give me more experience, but then I got to actually go overseas and represent the U.S., which is what I wanted to do," she said. "That was one of my goals — being on the national team – and I did it, so I was pretty happy.
"Yeah, completely satisfied," Lothrop said of her international career that ended just a half-step from Beijing. "I achieved what I wanted to. I put in as much effort as I possibly could and represented the U.S. as many times as my body would allow, and then just going to college was like a great ending to that."
Being so near the Olympics also allowed her to visit the city where she was born — Wuhan, China. She wanted to see the orphanage where she had lived her first two years but couldn't get government permission.
She thinks of herself as "definitely a lucky one. Where I was born was very poor. There are poor cities in the U.S., but for the majority, it looks pretty put-together, and China doesn't really look like that."
She and sister Christie grew up in the Massachusetts gym, Yellow Jacket Gymnastics, owned by their parents.
"They saw that I had determination, and I really wanted to excel at gymnastics," said Lothrop.
To give herself the best chance of making the Olympics, she moved to Hill's Gymnastics in Maryland to train with Kelli Hill, who's had many high-level international gymnasts.
After nearly two years off from competition because of the torn Achilles, Lothrop was more nervous than she's ever been when she debuted collegiately on Jan. 7 against defending NCAA champion UCLA in the Huntsman Center. She scored a 39.025 to help the Utes upset the No. 1-ranked team.
- BYU, Utah and Utah State 2013 football...
- BYU, Utah and Utah State 2013 football...
- High school baseball: Bingham Miners bring...
- High school baseball: Salem Hills Skyhawks...
- BYU basketball: Agustin Ambrosino leaves BYU...
- Wasatch Whip Around: Deseret News writers...
- High school boys soccer: Lehi beats Bingham,...
- Hard work, dedication pay off for Utah's Karl...
- Hard work, dedication pay off for... 57
- High school baseball: 5A, 4A state... 56
- BYU, Utah and Utah State 2013 football... 39
- BYU basketball: Agustin Ambrosino... 29
- BYU basketball: Dave Rose hoping Tyler... 28
- Bodyguards allegedly beat up 2 fans who... 19
- Utah Jazz: No lottery luck, so Jazz... 19
- Utah Jazz: Team is a long shot to win... 7