Bringing Olympic Gold Home to Cherrywood

By Vivienne Heines
Originally published in the August 2018 issue of The Flea

Like most athletes, 13-year-old gymnast Sabine Collins performs a ritual before her competitions. She waves at her family in the stands, they wish her good luck, and she begins her routine.

Recalling her performance at the 2018 Special Olympics, she said sweetly, “I nailed it.”

She did more than that: Sabine won four gold medals and one bronze medal at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, Washington. She was among 4,000 elite athletes from across the nation who participated in the most recent Games.

Sabine, an eighth grader at Lamar Middle School, competed in Level 1 gymnastics and took home gold in All Around, Floor, Beam and Bars, plus bronze in Vault. She was selected for Team Texas after only three seasons of competition and says she worked hard to prepare. She practiced at least twice a week for months, training with a Nationals coach each weekend.

“I got very flexible,” she said. Her favorite category is floor because she gets to dance. “I was pretty excited. I was not nervous at all,” she said. Why not? “Because of my confidence and I focused on what I was supposed to do.”

Her parents attended the games along with thirty friends and family members, all wearing purple “Team Sabine” t-shirts. Purple, as you might have guessed, is Sabine’s favorite color.

“We were the biggest, loudest group,” said her mother, Rachel Collins. She added that they cheered for all of Team Texas, not just Sabine. “We had Texas flags, bandanas, and signs!”

Sabine’s father said he was impressed by Seattle’s support of the event, where there were banners, signs, billboards, discounts and other special perks and activities for participants and families. The event was televised on ESPN; Sabine was pictured on ESPN’s Instagram “Smile of the Day” feature and in a promotional video clip.

“This was a way bigger deal than we were expecting,” said John Collins. “These are once-in-a-lifetime moments.”
Sabine’s mother said the competition was an incredibly positive experience, adding, “I wish everybody could see and be a part of this tangible joy.”

Sabine made fast friends with many of the other young athletes and was a fan favorite at competition. She says “meeting new friends” was her favorite part of the trip.

Sabine returned to find her house decorated with signs and posters made by friends of her older sister, Ani. She has received letters of congratulations from the mayor of Seattle and Austin Mayor Steve Adler. She and her family hope to return again to Nationals and to eventually compete in the World Special Olympics.

Sabine, who also enjoys swimming in addition to gymnastics, has said that one of her goals now that she is back from her Olympic experience, is to be “in the deep end of the pool and not afraid.” Another goal is to someday own a café: She enjoys cooking with her parents and her favorite dish is linguine with pesto, green peas, and ham.

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Jennifer Potter-Miller

About Jennifer Potter-Miller

Chair, Friends of Patterson Park, Social Media Chair, Maplewood Elementary School PTA, and Content Editor, Flea newsletter

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