Olympian’s daughter competes at BYU


Peter Vidmar is a well-recognized name in the LDS community for winning three medals in the Olympics, in addition to becoming the highest-scoring American gymnast in history. His daughter Emily competes with BYU gymnastics but has begun a legacy all her own.

Peter Vidmar scored a perfect 10 on the pommel horse in the 1984 Olympic Games and was the USA Olympic team captain.  He was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame twice. Only two other Olympic athletes have ever received this honor.  He married a UCLA elite gymnast, and his five children seem to have the perfect genes to become elite athletes themselves; however, Emily is the only child of Peter and Donna Vidmar to compete competitively in gymnastics.

Peter and Emily Vidmar
(Photo by Chris Bunker)

Emily Vidmar and her four siblings all began gymnastics at a young age; however, the Vidmar parents did not pressure their children to participate in the sport. In fact, Peter Vidmar’s daughter Kathryn competes on the track team for BYU. For Emily, however, her love of gymnastics continually draws her to the sport.

Emily Vidmar primarily competed at an elite gym, Gym-Max, in California during middle school. Gym-Max is known for producing Olympians by training children at a young age. Kyla Ross, 2012 Olympian, also trained at this gym.

“I progressed really fast – I was pretty good for compulsories,” Emily Vidmar said. “I did (levels) six and seven in the same year and moved up a level each time. I got to level 10 sophomore year of high school.”

Level 10 is the highest level of gymnastics, after which follows junior and senior competition. Junior competition is considered college level, and senior competition is Olympic level. Gabby Douglas, recent Olympic champion, first competed at level 10 at 15. Emily Vidmar began level 10 when she was 16. Training and motivation moved her through the competitive gymnastics levels.

“When I was in middle school, it was about six hours a day of practice,” Emily said. “We talked to my teachers, and I got out of school at lunch every day. Sometimes practices would end at 6, sometimes later. When I got to high school, I realized I didn’t want to do elite. It was way too hard and too much. I just wanted to focus on college.”

During her sophomore year of high school, Emily Vidmar moved gyms to Wildfire Gymnastics, a club more focused on college gymnastics. Emily was involved in many extracurricular activities at Tesoro High School and competed on the varsity track team on pole vault. However, she loved gymnastics, and kept up with the sport.

Emily Vidmar’s parents remained supportive throughout her switching career goals.

“He (Peter Vidmar) never told me, ‘You need to get these skills,’ or anything,” Emily Vidmar said. “It was more supportive. I feel like if he was the other way, then it would just be too much pressure and burn me out more.”

Emily Vidmar said her father never coached her growing up. Rather, he was there to support her and help her through the emotional side of the sport rather than teach her skills. Peter Vidmar said there was no way for him to coach his daughter, as men’s and women’s gymnastics are very different. He said he enjoyed helping his daughter through the mental side of competition.

“I just shared in her love of the sport,” Peter Vidmar said. “This has just been a dream come true for her. It’s been a thrill for me to be able to see her compete.”

After signing with BYU on a full-ride scholarship, Emily Vidmar has set her sights on different gymnastic goals. She worked in the preseason to become a main competitor on the team. She practiced to be able to travel to all meets and compete in at least one or two events. Eventually, she would like to be a competitor on beam, floor and bars.

Emily’s mother, Donna Vidmar, has also supported Emily’s collegiate gymnastics goals. At UCLA Emily’s mother competed all-around all four years of college. UCLA took second in the national title her junior year of college.

“I kept telling Emily, ‘Just get to college and you will have so much fun,'” Donna Vidmar said. “I competed all four years at UCLA, and I loved it.”

Emily Vidmar has the opportunity to travel to some of the world championships with her dad. She has been able to meet many of the elite gymnasts and Olympic teams and talk to the press about her career.

“I think it’s fun, because I feel like in the gymnastics world I’m kind of known because of my dad,” she said.

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