ATHENS, Ga. -- Like many young athletes, Brittany Rogers' journey to the Olympics started as a little girl.
Swinging on the monkey bars on a playground in Canada Rogers discovered her gift.
“I won my first nationals at age 10, and I think that was the moment when I realized that I was actually good at the sport,” Rogers said.
Now, Rogers has found her way from British Columbia to Athens, Ga. as a member of one of the most elite collegiate gymnastics programs in the country.
Rogers balances school, life, and two teams: the Canadian National Team and the Gymdogs.
“I wasn’t really focused on coming down to school – my focus was more on the Olympics,” Rogers said. “I got an offer from Georgia to come down and visit and I did, and I fell in love with it.”
As a freshman, Rogers was named to the all-SEC team, but the goal was always to have the opportunity to represent her country at the Olympic Games.
But setbacks can be a set-up for success.
As Rogers had her eyes set on the 2012 Games, she had to undergo ankle surgery. It was heartbreaking.
“I originally called it quits and threw in the towel said, ‘I'm done with gymnastics,’” she said.
Rogers decided to take a year off. From there, things became much clearer.
“I think it was important that I took that time off because I'm not sure that I would've had the dedication and the aspirations that I do now -- that I found out that I truly do love gymnastics,” she said.
So Rogers got back to work and eventually qualified for the 2012 Games in London, but did not medal. And now-- even at 4 years older-- she's starting to feel like she's right in her prime as she has her sights set on Rio.
“The fact that I’ve competed every weekend for the past four years in college gymnastics has been a blessing too,” she said. “Because I’ve learned how to compete, I’ve learned how to sit on my nerves. I think you’re going to see a lot more confident Brittany than you saw in London.”
But Rogers is able to see how everything happens for a reason, so right above the scar from her surgery is a permanent reminder to never give up: a tattoo of the Olympic rings.
“That was a big memory for me -- just symbolizing that my hard work had paid off and now seeing it every day in practice just reminds me even more to get to that Rio Olympic Games,” she said.
It’s a moment that can never be erased. Five Olympic rings and a hope to inspire others.
“I want to continue to inspire anybody who is struggling, going through injuries, going through whatever it is in life that brings them down – that there is a brighter side,” Rogers said. “Just stick with it, and make sure your heart is in it.”
Rogers will compete in the Canadian championships this week; the national team will be named on June 30th.