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Leydin’s Legacy: ‘Quality Is Always Better Than Quantity’
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Photo courtesy to Chris Hook - University of Arizona Athletics

As veteran Australian gymnast and University of Arizona senior Maddi Leydin flips through her final year of competition, she credits efficient, intelligent training for generating the stamina that enables her to perform at her best weekly throughout the U.S. collegiate season.

“You just have to learn how to be a smart gymnast and not do so many numbers,” said the 22-year-old Leydin, whose style is a pleasing combination of finesse and power. “Get the good ones in so you don’t have to do as many. I think that’s that main thing that’s gotten me through. Keeping myself fit and healthy throughout the year has been helpful, as well.”

One of several Australian female and male gymnasts to compete for U.S. universities over the years, Leydin said she has thrived in the relatively liberal setting of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) gymnastics.

“It’s definitely been an adjustment, but I love the college atmosphere and the environment in which we get to train and compete,” said Leydin, a 2017 Scholastic All-American and 2018-2019 member of the Pacific-12 (Pac-12) Conference All-Academic First Team. “Before, I never really got to smile or have fun in the gym or even competing. Now I just wait for the weekends, and I love being out there. I get to express myself a lot more.”

Leydin said she is proud of the progress her Arizona team has made during her collegiate career. Arizona, which achieved a final national ranking of 38th place in 2018 and 35th place in 2019, is ranked 22nd in this sixth week of the 2020 NCAA season.

“Our team has shown a lot of growth over the last three years,” Leydin said. “Each meet we’ve had to prove ourselves and have each other’s back, so it’s a really good feeling to know we have a strong team chemistry and everything like that, but we still haven’t proven ourselves enough yet. We have more to give. We haven’t quite hit everything on the same night yet, but we’re definitely capable of more, and we’re definitely going to show it sometime this season.”

Leydin, the 2013 Australian national all-around champion and her country’s top all-arounder at the 2015 World Championships, said she is eager to contribute her four-event proficiency where and as needed in her final season.

“I’ve had some pretty good performances so far, such as on vault and floor,” she said of her results thus far in 2020. “I still want to get a few more of those in this season. In the last couple of years I competed all-around. This year I’m sort of doing three events and sometimes all-around, but I’m doing what I can for the team to get whatever scores they need. We have a lot of depth this year, so I just do what I can, really.”

Leydin, who is considering graduate studies in sports psychology in Australia, also offered a tip to younger Aussie gymnasts considering NCAA as the next step in their careers.

“I think perfecting your routines in Elite (international gymnastics) will really help you get to college,” she said. “That’s probably the main thing.”

As Leydin prepares for new ventures outside of gymnastics, she would like her focus on camaraderie and productivity to remain a positive influence in the sport.

“I hope that my legacy will be that I was a genuinely caring teammate, I made an effort to check in with my teammates, and I helped those around me get better by sharing my gymnastics knowledge and experiences,” she told IG. “I'd like to be remembered for my efficiency in practice and that, in the gym, quality is always better than quantity."

International Gymnast magazine’s recent coverage of Australian gymnasts includes:

“Enterprising Aussies” - Georgia-Rose Brown/Emma Nedov dual interview (July/August 2019)

Maddi Leydin profile (April 2017)

Rianna Mizzen profile (April 2017)

“Aussie Ace” - Philippe Rizzo update (October 2017)

To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition, or to order back issues of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

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