WXXV Student Athlete of the Week: Level 6 Gymnast Madison Dobson
They say the bigger the setback, bigger the comeback, and there’s no better example of that than this week’s WXXV Student Athlete of the Week.
Introducing 12-year-old gymnast Madison Dobson who had to learn to be great at the sport she loves not once, but twice.
Ever since she was just six-years-old, Madison Dobson has been living and breathing the sport of gymnastics, refusing to let anything get in her way of accomplishing her goals. “I’m a level six right now…there’s ten levels. Ten is like the hardest level and that’s like my goal. I hope I get there.”
A Long Beach native, Madison practices three times a week at Lanier’s School of Gymnastics, but she’d practice all day everyday if she could.
When asked about her favorite event, she says she couldn’t pick between bars and floor. “Bars is just fun. It just feels like you’re flying and having fun and then floor, I just like tumbling and flipping and all that stuff.”
While gym meets feature several difficult events, Madison gives herself small pep talks to get through the most intense moments. “Sometimes I just tell myself to calm down, take a deep breath, and just relax it’s okay. You’re going to be fine.”
Those encouraging words are coming out of a young athlete whose world was completely turned upside down just five years ago.
When Madison was just seven-years-old, she became really sick and began losing her ability to walk towards the end of 2018.
By January of 2019, she was completely paralyzed on one side.
After going to several specialists, the Dobson family got in contact with a doctor in Chicago, who diagnosed her with Lyme borreliosis in her spine and brain stem, causing Madison to lose hope for the remainder of her gymnastics career. “I didn’t think I was ever going to be doing it again. I thought I was like done. Over. You know, but like it was really hard for me because when I started it, I was like yeah, I’m doing this my whole life and then getting sick was like oh I have to stop and I’m not going to be able to do this again. It was hard for me. I think I cried a couple times and it just broke my heart.”
After being diagnosed in April and beginning treatments in May, Madison was almost in full recovery by October of 2019.
At 12 years old, Madison is now flipping for joy because she has made a full recovery from what previously felt like an impossible road back to 100 percent.
After regaining her strength and confidence, Madison won first place all around at the level six state meet last month. “Oh my gosh, I haven’t gotten first since I’ve been sick so being first was so exciting and it meant a lot to me. Just hearing everyone screaming and clapping was just amazing.”
Having overcome so much as such a young age, the sky is only the limit. Madison dreams to keep competing at the collegiate level. “I definitely want to open my own gym. I’m hoping to get into LSU, go to get a business degree and compete, and then open my own gym and help other girls and boys.”
Later this month, Madison will compete at the regional competition in Greensboro, North Carolina.