Non-Stop || Lin-Manuel Miranda

Fame.

A simple word that holds different meanings to many people across the world. To some this is what they strive for; this is exactly what they want in life. To others it is simply something that seems silly or unattainable. There are people who were born for fame; the charismatic and outspoken people. There are people who don't even want to begin to see the spotlight.

Follow Lena Hamilton navigate her overnight success from being a world class gymnast to an A-list movie star. Follow as she finds both herself and the love of her life Lin-Manuel Miranda.

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1. Prologue

Fame.

 

A simple word that holds different meanings to many people across the world. To some this is what they strive for; this is exactly what they want in life. To others it is simply something that seems silly or unattainable. There are people who were born for fame; the charismatic and outspoken people. There are people who don’t even want to begin to see the spotlight.

 

Then there are people just like me, neither wanting it nor striving for it. See I have been a gymnast my entire life. But just recently I have been thrust into the spotlight. They call it overnight success and that is exactly what had happened in the eyes of the public.

 

I had started going to the local gym with my mom in the ‘Mommy and Me’ gymnastics class. My mom loved going in with me because it wore out my insane energy. ‘Mommy and Me’ turned into ‘Tiny Tots’ that then turned into the Junior Olympic levels. I started at Level 1 and worked my way up through the system to Level 10.  By the time I was 10 years old I was training for the Elite level of gymnastics and I haven’t slowed down since. By the time I was 11 years old I tested into the National Junior Elite level and did well enough as a first year elite to advance to International Junior Elite where I got to represent the United States all across the world.

 

By the time I reached 12 years old I was being homeschooled and I was consistently in the gym training 35 hours per week.  I was consistent in my training and stayed International Junior Elite through my 13th, 14th and 15th years. It’s crazy because during this time my love and desire for this sport only intensified. I absolutely adored flipping and twisting through the air. There was nothing like the feeling of competing for the United States of America, nothing like it at all.

 

I then turned 16 early in 2010; this was my first year that I was eligible for International Senior Elite. This burning and desire to keep competing for the United States exploded within me that year. My goal was simple: to make the team and to be good enough for the next two years so that I could make the 2012 gymnastic Olympic team. In 2010 I worked harder than I have ever before in my life and made the International Senior Elite team. I was placing first in the All-Around events at nearly every single competition that I was sent to. I was the golden girl to the national team coaches and coordinators.  2011 rolled around and I only seemed to gain more confidence in my gymnastics as I swept every competition I went to, it seemed like nothing could slow me down. I had my sight set on London and I didn’t see anything that could possibly stop me.

 

The Olympic year rang in and I every single ounce of strength that I could give was going into my gymnastics. I was working on upgrades and trying my best to perfect those skills that I was planning on using throughout the year. I was locked in and loaded on this season, nothing was going to stop me. Throughout the beginning of the year I had carried on what I was doing for the past two years, I was absolutely dominating everything. Classics rolled around in June and on continued what I had set my sights on. I won the All-Around and placed the highest in both bars and beam, my best and favorite events.

 

And then the worst day of my life came. I was competing in the National Championships later in the month and everything started out wonderfully. The first day of competition ended and I was leading. My confidence was at an all time high and absolutely nothing was going to stop me now. Boy was I wrong.

 

The second day of competition was the day that my career in gymnastics changed. I was vaulting and I over rotated and landed on my leg in the worst way that I possibly could. I immediately fell over with a searing pain shooting from my left leg. My worst nightmare had come to fruition; I had torn my ACL and would be out of competition for at least the next six months.

 

I remember the every single excruciating moment up until the Doctor told me my prognosis. I had never incurred this kind of injury in my entire career. I had had minor injuries here and there but nothing of this magnitude. My world came crashing down in an instant. I had surgery that day and started rehabbing two weeks after that. I had to watch from home the Olympic Trials and the Olympic Games. This was supposed to be my moment and I was here sitting at home watching the girls bring home the gold. It was devastating. It was excruciating. It was heart wrenching. Imagine having everything you had literally ever worked for ripped away from you at the very last second.

 

I was resentful. For a moment in time I wanted nothing to do with gymnastics anymore. I went through the motions in rehab. I was supposed to start college right after the Olympics and compete for Ohio State in the NCAA. That was deferred for the next year and my time went to taking online college courses through a local community college and rehab.

 

After the girls came back and went on the Kellogg’s Tour of Champions the spark came back within me. I started rehabbing more seriously and took more time to do things right. I was back on my feet in six months time and stating to do light training. Nine months later I was competing again in the Junior Olympic Level 10. That summer I went back and was training again with the elite level. I then enrolled at Ohio State and was able to compete with the gymnastic team. I trained at 100 percent and the squad was able to actually make it to NCAA finals that year. I actually placed second in the all-around competition and first on the uneven bars. By the time my freshman season came to a close it was mid 2014 and people were starting to gear up for the next Olympic cycle.

 

I sat down with my college and elite level coaches and really talked about my options. I was already 20 years old and ‘well past my prime’ for the Olympic gymnastic team as I would be 22 years old trying to compete with 16 year olds for the Olympic Team. I decided to go ahead and give it a go though. This was what I wanted, more than anything in the entire world was to make that Olympic team.

 

I was invited to the USA National Team Camp and was selected again as an International Senior Elite for the remainder of the 2014-year. I again deferred my NCAA obligations in hopes of making the next Olympic Team. I was selected as member of the 2014 world team and ended up placing third in the all-around and first in the uneven bars again.

 

2015 came in a hurry and my training amplified throughout the year. This was my year to get back in shape and get my skills back to what they had been. I worked incredibly hard and it paid off as I was selected again as the International Senior Elite team member and consistently placed on the podium in 2015.

 

2016. The year of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro came a lot quicker than I thought it could. The competitions flew by and I was at the top of my game yet again. I had been in this position four years prior as the teams most likely lock to get a spot. I kept working, working as hard as I possibly could to make this team. Olympic Trials came and they passed and I placed second in the all-around and the teams top scorer in the uneven bars and balance beam. All I had to do was wait on the final decision to who made the team.

 

It felt like we waited for ages before the team was announced. My name was called as one of the members of the five person Olympic Team. Everything from the moment on was a blur. We were announced to the world and whisked away to start training for Olympics as a team.

 

The Olympics came and we absolutely crushed it. Our team was so solid and so consistent. The emotions and the moments were an absolute blur. I don’t even remember competing half of the time. It was both the most exciting and most terrifying moments of my life. We ended up getting the gold in team. I received the gold in the uneven bars and the balance beam as well as receiving the silver in the all-around competition.

 

The highest of highs and the lowest of lows was absolutely worth it for all the success I achieved in the Olympics. I came back to the United States with the media hype surrounding my name. I was the golden girl again. You heard my name everywhere. I was blowing up all across the nation. My manager got me going on anything and everything that I could possibly be doing.

 

I was a sensation. I didn’t just do the typical tour of champions or join Dancing with the Stars. I was offered roles in television shows and movies. Talent scouts told me that I had the face and the body to become the next acting sensation to sweep across the nation. So I went with it. I read for roles and immersed myself in something completely different than what gymnastics was.

 

I was offered minor and major roles in so many different things it was extremely overwhelming. I took on roles in my favorite television shows from just a single episode on Modern Family to a recurring role in Orange is the New Black. I landed a huge role as a major character in the upcoming film Deadpool 2 and was talking to JJ Abrams about bringing me on in the next Star Wars movie as the filming for episode 8 had already concluded.

 

By the end of 2016 I was a household name. I was Hollywood’s next ‘It’ girl. I surprised myself in my acting. I didn’t know I had it in me to transform to another person but I found a release in it. I found this passion that I didn’t even know that I had. I had been so into gymnastics my whole entire life I hadn’t even known this entirely different world. But thanks to gymnastics I was given the opportunity to pursue this career and I was taking full advantage of it. I was even receiving praises from critics claiming that they were ‘quite surprised’ by my acting ability having no previous experience.

 

Fame.

 

The fame came overnight. And it hit me like a freight train. People started noticing you when you went out. People wanted to take pictures with you and wanted your autographs. It was experience that I never even thought to be possible but here it was and it didn’t look like it was going to slow down any time soon.

 

I was the girl people were infatuated with. You saw my name everywhere you went.

 

Lena Hamilton.

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