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York County gymnast going for the gold

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. -- Trinity Thomas is a rising star in gymnastics.

Competing at the highest level of the sport, the 16-year-old from West York qualified for the U.S. National Championships this week in California.

"When I started training Elite (level), I realized this is serious now," said Thomas.  "It's not all fun and games anymore."

Thomas trains at Prestige Gymnastics in Lancaster, and coach Jen Fatta has seen Thomas' confidence continue to grow.

"I think the more we got to work with her and know her and push her in different ways, the more she started to believe how great she really is."

Last year, Thomas made the junior national team and got to train with Olympians like Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas.  This year, competing for the first time in the senior division, Thomas hopes that now it's her time to shine.

"I'm really excited because it's so cool to think that I'm just like them now," said Thomas. "I'm not little anymore."

Thomas has a great chance to seize the spotlight in her favorite event, the floor exercise, because her routine includes something that right now only one or two other people in the world can do.

"It's a 2 1/2 step out twist, to a roundoff back handspring and then two flips in the air", explains Fatta.  "It's a really hard pass, and it happens in the blink of an eye.  To the untrained eye, it's like 'Wow, that's really pretty', but when you know what she's doing, it's like 'Oh my, that's amazing'.

That pass has become her signature move, and it all started with an injury.

"I hurt my elbow a few years back," said Thomas.  "I was only working on tumble track for the longest time, just doing one-arm roundoffs to twisting elements and stuff.  And (coach) Tony was like 'Hey, let's try to step out of your 2 1/2 (twist).'  So I started working on those when I was in a cast."

She will be one of 22 women vying for a national title in Anaheim.  And since the reigning Olympians will not be competing, this year's championships provide a golden opportunity for young gymnasts like Thomas.

The women's events at the championships start on Friday and will conclude on Sunday.