After the recent retirement of her coach, Peter Zhao, Samantha Peszek left DeVeau’s School of Gymnastics (Fishers, Ind.) and has been training at Sharp’s Gymnastics Academy (Indianapolis) for about two weeks.
“She’s been at DeVeau’s for 14 years, and it’s like her second home,” Luan Peszek, Sam’s mother, told IG. “But Peter was not there. She enjoys all of her teammates and the staff at DeVeau’s, so it was hard to make the decision to leave.”
Luan says that Zhao will move back to his native China in December, to help with a family business. “About four years ago … Peter gave the Peszek family his commitment that he would help Sam get to the world championships and Olympic Games, and he did!” Luan said. “He has postponed his move to China for a couple of years now to help Sam achieve her goals. We are so grateful for all that Peter and DeVeau’s have done for Sam.”
With Sharp’s about 40 minutes away, Peszek, 16, can still live at home and finish her junior and senior years in high school while continuing her elite training. Her 13-year-old sister, Jessica, will continue to train at DeVeau’s as a Level 10, according to Luan.
At Sharp’s, Peszek is training with Olympic teammate Bridget Sloan, and so far the arrangement is working well, according to coach Marvin Sharp. “I think this is going to be great for both girls,” Sharp said. “I have always liked Sam’s outgoing personality and competitive desire. You don’t have to push her; just guide her in the right direction. Bridget likes to take her time and really get a handle on the skill and the technique before she jumps into something new, and she, too, is a very good competitor, especially under pressure. Together, I think we’re going to make a great team.”
Sharp says he and Zhao have been good friends for many years. “I hope I can continue to build on the great work Peter has done with Samantha,” he said.