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Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians sixth grader Nylah Wilson earned a gold medal as the Level 6 Vault Co-Champion and placed 4th All-Around in the Simone Biles Invitational on Feb. 2, 2024, in Houston, Texas, and a second gold medal at the Mississippi State Gymnastics competition on March 15, 2024. Photo courtesy Elter Wilson

Person of the Day | Nylah Wilson: Elementary Gymnast Wins Two Gold Medals

Nylah Wilson delicately balanced on the beam, her outstretched arms tipping slightly as her weight shifted. She seems oblivious to the constant movement and chatter of the gymnasts around her. Once steady, she twirled once and took a moment to balance again. Taking a breath, she took a few steps and twirled again before making it to the end of the beam.

The sixth-grader glanced up to the observation room, the movement causing the rhinestones in her leotard to catch the light and sparkle, and she found her grandmother in the crowd. Satisfied, she returned her focus to her beam work.

“She looks for me. She expects me to be here,” Wilson’s grandmother, Gail Wilson said. “I can’t leave; I have to stay.”

Nylah is a shy, 12-year-old. She speaks softly and hovers close to Gail, with whom she has lived since she was 2. As a young girl, her grandmother noticed Nylah spent most of her time turning cartwheels and trying to tumble. The family decided to give her an outlet to hone her talent.

“We asked her if she wanted to be in gymnastics, and she said yes,” Gail told the Mississippi Free Press during an interview in the gym’s lobby. “Of course, my son wants her to be the best at everything, and he wants the best for her. So he looked at every gym that he possibly could around, and he found this one.”

Nylah and her teammates have competed in several meets across the South since the September start of their season. On Friday, March 15, 2024, Nylah earned a gold medal in the Mississippi State Gymnastics Level 6 Vault with a score of 9.375. It was her second gold medal of the season in the event. The sixth grader competed in the Simone Biles Invitational in Houston, Texas, on Feb. 2. There, she finished as the Level 6 Vault Co-Champion and placed 4th All-Around.

“I was happy,” Nylah said about her performance in the meet.

The young gymnast met Jordan Chiles and Biles’s husband Jonathan Owens, but meeting Biles herself was a highlight of the trip.

“(That) was very fun,” Nylah said. “She asked me how the meet went. I am a little taller than her.”

In addition to gymnastics, Nylah Wilson finds time to participate in school and extracurricular activities. She was crowned Princess during this year’s American Indian Day Princess and Brave Pageant. Photo courtesy Elter Wilson

Gymnastics is demanding. Nylah makes the 45-minute trip, four days a week to Courthouse Gym in Flowood. There she trains for three hours before making the drive home to complete homework and other school responsibilities. She also does additional gymnastics work at home.

“She’s a pretty smart cookie, so she does well,” Gail said. “If she could get involved in everything, she would. She just doesn’t have the time.”

Nylah still finds time to participate in school and extracurricular activities. During her school’s annual American Indian Day Princess and Brave Pageant this year, Nylah was crowned Category III Princess. She plays recreational basketball and is also a member of the Beta Club. The activities sometimes collide.

“They’re going to Beta convention Wednesday, (Feb. 21), and she’s gonna do a dance, and they are going to compete,” Gail said. “We’ll stay there Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and then we’re going to go to Missouri from there (for a gymnastics competition).”

Nylah aspires to be a one day Olympic gymnast. For right now, she is simply enjoying the time in competitions with friends.

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