18 Under 18: Jordyn Wieber

The designated "It Girl" of the London Olympics balances gymnastics and a 3.9 GPA

Updated: February 29, 2012, 12:39 AM ET
By Alyssa Roenigk | ESPNHS GIRL Magazine

ESPNHS honors 18 female teen athletes who are doing remarkable things on the field, in the classroom and in their communities. Click here to read about them.

Jordyn Wieber doesn't like attention. She knows it's hard for most people to believe -- especially those who know her only as Jordyn Wieber, 2011 world all-around gymnastics champion. When she's competing, Wieber is one of the best showmen -- ahem, show-women -- in the sport. Her powerful, electrifying floor routines are choreographed to music guaranteed to draw every eye to the floor and bring together the hands of every fan in the arena. But when she's at home or at school, the Olympic hopeful wants, more than anything, to blend into the crowd.

"Outside of gymnastics, you'd never know I'm an elite gymnast," said Wieber, 16, a junior at Dewitt (Mich.) High School, where she attends two classes a day -- English III and Nutrition & Foods -- between twice-a-day practices at Twistar Gymnastics, where she has trained since she was 4. She completes the remainder of her courses online while maintaining above a 3.9 GPA. "Going to school keeps me balanced," she said. "If my mind was constantly on gymnastics, it would be way more stressful. I like having a life and friends outside of gymnastics. It's good for the next generation of gymnasts to see that you can do both." On Friday nights when she's in town, Wieber attends varsity football games to watch her older brother, Ryan, who was the quarterback of the team this past season. She has a crush on Justin Bieber. She does homework in the evenings, attends school dances and has a circle of friends who, she says, keep her grounded. Said Ryan: "She really is your average teenage girl."

But after she won the world all-around title in Tokyo last fall, her classmates and teachers weren't content to let her fly under the radar. On the day she returned to school, students were excused from class in anticipation of her arrival. When she walked into the building, Wieber found the entire student body lining the hallways with signs that read, "We ♥ Jordyn!" She walked through the hallway high-fiving her classmates as local TV stations filmed her impromptu pep rally. "Usually I like to blend in," Wieber says. "But it was really nice." With the Olympic Trials and the London Olympics on the horizon, Wieber, this year's "It Girl," will have to get used to balancing the attention -- both on and off the beam.

Read more about Jordyn Wieber on espn.com and see her diary for espnW.com.

Alyssa Roenigk

ESPN The Magazine senior writer
Alyssa Roenigk is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com whose assignments covering action sports, Olympics and football have taken her to six continents and caused her to commit countless acts of recklessness. In 2012, she joined the X Games TV broadcast team and ordered additional pages for her passport. Follow her on Twitter at @espn_alyssa.