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Sophina DeJesus: Trendy Tumbler


Last summer, UCLA gymnast Sophina DeJesus devised a plan to end her senior season in singular fashion. The California native choreographed a floor routine that incorporated normal twists and tumbling passes, and a little something extra: a unique compilation of today's hottest dance moves that her audience would recognize.

Over the season Sophina trained for more than four hours each day to earn her spot in the floor competition lineup. Finally, in a home meet against the Utah Utes on February 6, she had the chance to break out her special routine. She dazzled the crowd and the judges, earning a score of 9.925. She came in fourth, but her score helped UCLA win the meet. The following morning Sophina's mom called and woke her up, asking if she knew that a video of her routine had become an overnight sensation. "I thought she was just being sweet, just being my mom," Sophina recalls. "Then my coach called and I knew it was serious."

Her video received more than 13 million views on YouTube, and, most important, it kept her focused on having fun for the rest of the season. "When I was younger, I dreamed about competing at the Olympics, but when I fractured my back [in 2009] that was no longer a possibility," she says. "When this video went viral, that was my moment and my chance to shine. It was the performance I have always wanted to have, and it was such a cool experience."

Photos: courtesy UCLA Photography (jump, pose), Katie Myers/UCLA Athletics (jump split), Don Liebig/UCLA (split)