84
      Saturday
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      Sunday
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      Monday
      85 / 73

      Move over Gabby Douglas, locals strive for gold

      As the final gymnastic olympic events are set to air Tuesday night, girls from across the Carolinas come to practice for another four hours at Gymnastics and More in Little River, many of which are National Champions.

      "It's a lot of hard work, everyone talks about the hard work, but remember it's fun work also. The kind of fun that they seek is achievement," Coach Louis Ligouri says.

      For Level 10 National Competitor, Gilly Houge out of Socastee, that fun began back in 2003 when she won the South Carolina State Championships in the all-around, beam and floor exercises.

      For Houge, who's been training since age two, the Olympics carry a special place in her heart.

      "I remember the 2004 Olympics and watching with my family. It just really inspired me that I wanted to be better, I wanted to be like them," she said.

      Now Houge, and a dozen other girls, levels 9 and 10, start their four hour work out with conditioning and runs, followed by watching the olympic gymnastic performances from team USA.

      "Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber are my favorite," Houge says.

      While the girls watch, 12-year-old Rachel Fornal views with wide eyes.

      "You never know what could happen," she says when we ask her if she has Olympic dreams.

      Most of the girls here at the gym have goals and dreams of college scholarships. With the hard work they put in at the gym it seems obtainable.

      Since the gym's creation in 1994, Ligouri says they have had 18 state championship titles, and 140 college scholarships given.

      "Right now we have two seniors that have graduated and are getting ready to play at North Carolina State and Ithaca College in the Fall," he adds.

      As for Houge, she's promised to Arizona State University, with a full ride. She's 16 and graduates in two years.