As a child growing up in Wisconsin, Matt Cormier could not have imagined the places gymnastics would take him.
Now, the 16-year-old Milton resident, living in his third state in five years, will compete in Gyor, Hungary, this week as one of three Americans chosen for the first Junior World Gymnastics Championships.
“I knew if I trusted the process it would all come out well,” said Cormier. “Sometimes you have meets that don’t go your way that makes you question yourself, but this makes it all worth it.”
“It was something he was good at and he liked it,” said Dennis Cormier, Matt’s father. “As a dad, I tried to get him interested in other sports, but he would always ask if the games and practices would interfere with his gymnastics.
“He’s chosen gymnastics all on his own and he’s passionate about it.”
When the Cormier family moved from Cheshire, Conn., after a two-year stay, to Milton, a 13-year-old Matt maintained his training schedule. He began working with his current coach, Levon Karakhanyan, at New England Sports Academy.
Karakhanyan, a four-time national champion from Armenia, has a coaching pedigree that goes back to Brazil in the late 1990s and includes the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. When NESA closed, he opened his current gym, Mass. Elite Gymnastics Academy, in Millis in 2016.
“Matt came to train with me when he was 13,” said Karakhanyan. “He was a kid who loved gymnastics, always a hard-working type of kid.”
Matt’s training schedule increased to four hours a day, six days a week, working with Karakhanyan to refine his skills and become proficient in his techniques.
Specializing in floor and vault, he improved drastically even after injuring his wrist in late 2016. He did much of his training on the trampoline, working on his air awareness and perfecting the motions of his flips.
“Something about being upside-down and being able to move your body in different ways captivated me,” said Cormier. “I knew it was an opportunity to physically express myself.”
Cormier competed at this year’s Junior Elite Championships in Reno, Nev., where he finished first in the floor and vault. His all-around score and fourth-place finish were good enough to get him invited to the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for the Junior World Championships selection camp.
Cormier was chosen along with Texas’s Garrett Braunton and California’s Isaiah Drake as the three American representatives.
“To get to this level is just a completely euphoric experience,” said Cormier. “I didn’t have too many expectations going into camp, I just hit all my sets.”
Now 16, with college visits planned and senior national team prospects on the horizon, Cormier’s future is bright. But his immediate focus is helping Team USA bring home a medal, with Karakhanyan, who was also selected to coach the team, by his side.
“It’s just fantastic,” said Karakhanyan. “It takes a long time to develop high-level gymnasts. It’s a very special opportunity to be involved in with my own student.”