Gillian is among the student-athletes that IUM has the privilege of welcoming each year.
Four-time French gymnastics champion, Gillian Leopold, proudly represented the International University of Monaco in Lille taking home the title of University Champion in France on Thursday, March 31st 2016.
Originally from Toulon, Gillian started gymnastics when she was only four years old after her mother encouraged her to join. Soon after, Gillian began dreaming about one-day competing at the national level in championships.
Even though Gillian loves the sport, growing up as an athlete wasn’t always easy. At the age of 10, Gillian attended boarding school in Aix en Provence until she was 14 years old. She later went to Paris, the City of Lights, for high school where she trained and competed as a senior gymnast with the National Gymnastics Team of France. “It was difficult being away from my family growing up, but it was an experience that made me grow and become very independent,” Gillian explained.
In order for Gillian to be the champion she is, she trains 10 hours a week starting out with one hour of flexibility training and two hours of practice routine. As every student-athletes, her weekly schedule is quite busy, as she studies full-time at IUM in her first year of the Bachelor of Business Administration program and travels back to Toulon to train Thursday to Saturday. When asked what she does in her spare time she simply said, sleep.
Sport is just as much of a mental game as it is physical, in order to mentally prepare herself, Gillian uses the power of persuasion. In her own words she chanted, “you can do it, you know how to do it,” before every championship she whispers these small, but powerful words to herself.
This year’s university gymnastic championship included other universities from Toulon, Paris and Lille. “The atmosphere was cool and relaxed, everyone was there because they were happy to do something they loved,” explained Gillian. “Sometimes national competitions are tense and everyone is focused on their sport, the university competitions have a lot more life to them.”
“All other competitors were really excited about IUM and the student life in Monaco, it was such a pleasure to represent my university.” The competition was at the Lille 2 University of Health and Law, specializing in the science of sports and physical activities.
Her advice for other young athletes out there is, “try to believe you are the best, believe in yourself, if you don’t believe in yourself, it’s not possible.”
A strong athlete and genuine spirit, Gillian is an excellent example of how to make it work when you are working towards two big endeavors in life.
IUM is home to many student-athletes that come from all over the world and offers tremendous support to help them succeed and take part in exciting competitions and championships like those of Gillian Leopold.
Written by Maximilienne Acquarone, current Bachelor in Communication student
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