Rayna Light is the only gymnast in Florida to qualify for the Nastia Liukin Cup in Milwaukee.

Golden City Gymnastics student Rayna Light was the only gymnast in Florida to qualify for the Nastia Liukin Cup in Milwaukee on March 6. She won the Magical Classic on February 15 as the top junior (15 and under), which was a qualifier for the cup against 18 other kids her age from around the country.

“It’s really exciting and I’m really grateful for the opportunity,” said Light. “I want to thank all my coaches and everyone who has helped me get here.”

The 14-year-old is a level 10 gymnast, which is the highest level for a gymnast at the Junior Olympics level. She has been doing gymnastics since she was about three years old. According to Light’s coach, Marissa Ramos, not many kids make level 10 in their careers.

Recently, for the second year in a row, she won the Jose Gaspar Award at the Gasparilla Classic, awarded to the highest scoring level 10 in Florida.

Ramos said that Light doesn’t let the pressure get the best of her.

“She’s really great at getting out on the competition floor and just doing gymnastics and leaving everything else behind,” said Ramos. “Watching her grow over the years— she’s been at our gym since she was just 3 years old—it’s never been easy for her, she’s very talented, but she’s always been the type of kid that’s had to work really hard for flexibility and form.”

Ramos said that Light went to a bunch of camps as a part of the elite program where she was always told that her form wasn’t good enough and that she’s not flexible enough, but she always kept pushing to be better.

“She always stuck it out and kept pushing herself, just kept doing her best, so I think it’s come full circle and it has really started to pay off for her,” said Ramos.

Light has a very busy schedule, to say the least. She practices for about 22 hours a week year-round. On the same weekend of the Nastia Liukin Cup, she wants to fly from Milwaukee to Savannah the next morning to compete because she doesn’t want to let her teammates down who will be in competition there.

Later in March, Light will compete at the state competition, where she will try to qualify for the regionals, and hopefully the nationals from there. Light’s top goal is to qualify for the nationals this year.

The Junior Olympic Nationals consists of the top seven kids in her age group in the country; only level 10 gymnasts can qualify. Last year, when she tried to qualify for nationals, she suffered a hip injury, pulling her out of the competition.

Light’s ultimate goal is to receive a college scholarship for gymnastics. Ramos said that Light has received a lot of interest from colleges so far.

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.