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Local Legends: Rancho's Future Olympian
by: Debbie L. Sklar
Drake started competing at the tender age of 4-years-old.
Drake started competing at the tender age of 4-years-old.

At 8-years-old, Rancho Santa Margarita youngster, Hayley Duke is already a superstar.

The energetic Duke recently earned the impressive title of Trampoline Champion 2009 at the J.O. National Championships in Trampoline and Tumbling.

“I was really surprised when I received the award,” she says. “It was really cool.”

The national competition held earlier this summer, from June 23-29 in San Jose, California, attracted more than 1,600 other dedicated gymnasts who were representing 200 clubs from 37 states around the country.

In Duke’s group, there were 27 girls ranging in age from 7 to 8 years old in “Level 6 for Trampoline.”

No stranger to gymnastics, Duke began participating when she was only 4 years old and she has actually been competing since she was 7 years old.

These days, Duke trains around 16 hours a week -- on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday -- 4 about hours a day. Her love for the world of gymnastics doesn’t seem to be waning either; she says once she graduates, her plan is to “Go to the Olympics.”

When Duke isn’t at the gym working her magic in gymnastics and on the trampoline, she enjoys watching TV and spending time with her mom and dad, as well as her two sisters, Shannen and Ashley.

In school, Duke reports that her favorite subjects include math, reading, and of course, Physical Education. Besides her family being terribly proud of Duke’s accomplishments this past summer, her peers were also excited when they learned about her title and award.

“My classmates did not know because it was over the summer, but my teammates were very happy for me,” she says.
Duke says that her hero is “Jesus; God gives the talent, we give the effort.”


Debbie L. Sklar is a 20+year journalism veteran residing in Southern California, where she is a writer, columnist and editor for many local, regional and national publications. Sklar may be reached via e-mail at

What do you think? Leave your comment here.

Comment by Sadie in Ohio 11/19/2009 3:46:00 AM

Way to go Haley !

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