Henderson gymnast, 15, sets sights on 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo

Chalk powder forms a dissipating cloud around her hands as Maile O’Keefe approaches the training bars at Henderson’s Academy of Gymnastics, home of the Salcianu elite team.

Her coach of more than 10 years, Tammy Salcianu, keeps a watchful eye on the 15-year-old national champion as she swings through the air and completes a pirouette.

“She was three and a half, almost four,” Salcianu said of when she met Maile at the Academy. “She was everywhere, and I was like, ‘Look at this little bundle of energy and enthusiasm.’”

Since her first cartwheel on the Salcianu tumbling mats, Maile has worked to make a name for herself in the world of gymnastics. She strived to be the best competitor at every level until “she came to the top,” Salcianu said. Maile attends multiple nationwide competitions each year and, after proving her worth on the scoreboard, is an American junior elite national team member.

The senior and junior national elite teams are selected from the USA Championships each year to represent the United States in international competitions. The junior team member slots are determined from the rank order established at USA Championships. They range in age from 11-15.

There are six team members, including Maile.

Maile’s entry into gymnastics came by way of a Christmas present from her aunt and uncle; they gifted the then-toddler a one-month membership to the Salcianus’ gym.

Tammy Salcianu co-owns the Academy, at 1000 Stephanie Place, Suite 1, with her husband, Sorin. She is a gymnastics choreographer and beam specialist, and he is a former national gymnastics team member for Romania and part of a high bar/trapeze act for Cirque du Soleil’s “Mystère.”

Together, the duo trains up-and-coming Olympians.

Maile, an incoming 10th-grader at Odyssey Charter School, a home-school program, has dedicated the majority of her life to training at the Academy. She spends six days a week practicing bar, beam and floor routines.

Her favorite pastime is to help coach the Academy’s younger members, just as she has been helped by gold medalists at national training camps. This spring, she worked on her skills at the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center in Hunstville, Texas, alongside Olympic competitors Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman, among others.

Maile’s current goal is the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

“During my first national team camp, Aly (Raisman) was kind of looking out for me,” Maile said. “It’s nice working out with them because you think, ‘Wow, they must have good days every day,’ but you see them struggle, so it’s kind of nice to know you’re not the only one.”

Maile’s latest gymnastic achievements are listed on the many posters of her displayed throughout the Academy. Her resume of accomplishments dates to 2008, when she started competing at age 6. She has traveled to competitions in Jesolo, Italy, and Montreal in 2017.

It was her June 2016 performance at the P & G Gymnastics Championships in St. Louis that Maile did her best routine yet. She placed third in vault, sixth in bars and first in beam, floor and all around, racking up the most points of any P & G competitor at her level.

Maile’s mother, Tori, had not been able to attend her daughter’s elite competitions until the 2016 P & G because it wasn’t financially feasible. Standing in the wings as Maile’s scores lit up the arena last June, Tori was speechless. She attributes Maile’s success to the determination she’s had since childhood.

“We’ve always known she had that ability,” she said. “The maturity had kicked in and she’d been really consistent in her practices, so I knew it was going to be something special, that meet. I just didn’t realize how special.”

Maile is readying to attend the 2017 P & G Gymnastics Championships in Anaheim, California, this month. With the Salcianus at her side, it’s as if O’Keefe has “two sets of parents,” her mother said, to make sure she’s happy, healthy and willing to put in the effort.

“Sometimes there are really hard days,” Maile said. “But I know it’ll be worth it, and I just gotta keep working because I’m pretty much almost there.”

Contact Alex Meyer at ameyer@viewnews.com or 702-383-0496. Follow @alxmey on Twitter.

Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Clark County recount votes in commission’s District E primary
Clark County staff begin the recount requested by candidate Marco Hernandez in the democratic primary for the County Commission's District E seat on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Long-running local hip hop producer wants Vegas rappers to shine
Las Vegas Hip Hop producer and co-owner of Digital Insight Recording Studios Tiger Stylz reflects on 30 years of music production in the city. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Construction for new 51s ballpark underway
New home of the Las Vegas 51s is planned to be finished by March 2019 in Summerlin according to team president Don Logan. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Underground home was built as Cold War-era hideaway
The underground house at 3970 Spencer Street is one of the valley’s most unusual homes built 26 feet underground in 1978 by Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson, who, planned to survive the end of the world there.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like