Olivia Karas is a stellar level 10 gymnast who trains at IK Gymnastics in Chicago, Illinois. Karas is the reigning JO National champion in the senior A division and will be looking to defend her title next weekend. Karas also qualified for the Nastia Liukin Cup the past two years and placed sixth all-around in 2014 and third all-around in 2015. Karas is a senior and will join the University of Michigan team in the fall. Get to know Karas in and out of the gym in our weekly Q&A series below.
What is your favorite memory as a gymnast, so far?
My favorite memory as a gymnast so far has to be winning state on beam and floor in 2013. It was a very memorable state meet for me because I had just come off of a major back injury and a broken ankle, so winning the only two events I competed that year was really something special for me.
If you weren't doing gymnastics, what would you be doing?
If I weren't doing gymnastics, honestly I have no idea what I would be doing. I honestly am awful at every other sport out there so it is hard to say what I would be up to.
Have you ever done anything embarrassing in practice? Competition?
I love having noteworthy falls in the gym that everyone likes to watch on the camera. Usually they are pretty good and crack me and my teammates up. I don't normally do anything embarrassing so to say, but I love laughing at myself when I fall in a funny way. In competition, in level six, I split the beam on a full turn at state and thought it was the funniest thing ever.
If you could be any other gymnast, who would you be?
Keri Strug, hands down. Her vault amazes me and I love her personality and absolute love for the sport of gymnastics.
Who is your childhood hero?
It sounds so cliché but my childhood hero has to be my mom. She accomplishes more in one day than most people do in a week and I've always looked up to her for her positive outlook on life.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was little, what I wanted to be when I grew up changed a lot but it was definitely a vet for a really long time.
Describe your worst habit.
My worst habit has to be the fact that I like everything to be even. It's so strange but when I itch my right arm, I always have to itch my left arm to make it equal. It happens a lot in tons of different situations but I always find myself doing it.
What is your most bizarre pet peeve?
My most bizarre pet peeve is when the microwave isn't cleared. It drives me crazy!
What "Most Likely To" superlative would you be most honored to receive and why?
My "Most Likely To" superlative would have to be "Most Likely To Spend All Day In Bed Watching Friends"
What advice would you give to other gymnasts?
My advice to any gymnast would be to live in the moment. The worst part about gymnastics is that you can get caught up thinking about the past or what's to come in the future, but if you stay in the moment and focus on what you're doing at that exact second, you'll feel so much more confident.
Describe your pre-competition routine.
My pre competition routine begins with me falling asleep while visualizing my routines. When I wake up, I normally eat egg whites and berries and do my hair and makeup and put my leotard on. I always chew spearmint orbit gum before the meet and listen to some music in the car on the way there. I also love when my parents talk to me about random stuff to get my mind off of the meet. I also always get to the meet about an hour early.
How would you describe your personality?
I consider myself energetic and spunky yet focused and determined.
What is your worst habit in the gym?
My worst habit in the gym has to be using all of the tape. I'm a tape monster; I use so much of it!
In ten years, where do you see yourself and what will you be doing?
In ten years, I hope to be working in the field of sports management and hopefully be in one piece after all of these years of gymnastics!
Who are three of your role models outside the gym?
Three of my role models outside of the gym have to be my grandma, my mom and my best friend Lena.
Who are two gymnasts you admire most?
Two gymnasts I admire most are Keri Strug and Nicole Artz (my future teammate at Michigan). Both of them have inspired me to work harder and keep on going!
If you made a life bucket list, what would be your number one activity to accomplish?
At the top of my bucket list is to go to Greece!
What is the most difficult thing you've had to overcome in gymnastics?
The most difficult thing I've had to overcome in gymnastics is having a stress fracture in my back. It was a major roadblock in my gymnastics career and I'm really proud of myself for pushing through it and coming out stronger.
If you could witness any event past, present, or future, what would it be?
As if it isn't clear that she is my favorite gymnast yet but if I could relive any moment, it would be to watch Keri Strug's vault at the Olympics.
What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is drifting away from the close friends that I have in my life right now.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment is coming back from my back injury and being offered a full ride scholarship to the University of Michigan.
Besides gymnastics, what is your favorite sport to watch/play?
Definitely basketball! My brother and step-dad are huge basketball fans so they've lured me into it.
What song would you sing at Karaoke night?
Breaking Free from high school musical. I admit it, its my favorite movie.
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Fried rice. It is just so good!
How would your friends describe you?
My friends would describe me as loud yet focused.
What three items would you take with you on a deserted island?
On a deserted island, I would bring food, water and my little brother. He keeps me laughing all the time!
Do you collect anything?
I love bracelets and get different ones when I go to different places so I guess I collect those.
If you could join any past or current music group, which would you want to join?
I would join Imagine Dragons. They're my favorite band.
Are you creative in any way?
I would consider myself slightly creative. I like to give people creative gifts for birthdays or Christmas. I don't really like materialistic gifts so I try to give people meaningful, creative things instead of something store bought.
Who is your best friend and how did you meet?
My best friend's name is Lena. She does gymnastics with me and we met when we were six years old at Lakeshore Academy of Gymnastics. We do everything together and I cannot live without her. She is my number one supporter and I'm hers and I wouldn't want it any other way!