Joscelyn Roberson competes in the floor routine during the U.S. Classic on July 30, 2022 in West Valley City, Utah.
A glowing Joscelyn Roberson stepped off the floor at last month’s gymnastics world cup event in Cairo and let out a happy sigh of relief.
It’s been a good year so far for Roberson, who has plenty to be pleased about after making a name for herself at two recent major international competitions, with a third — the prestigious Pan American Championships — coming up later this month.
Her gymnastics, packed with unusual and difficult skills the 17-year-old deploys with aplomb, has never looked stronger. Her confidence bucket is full, and good things are starting to happen.
In her FIG World Cup debut in Egypt last month, the Texarkana, Texas, native racked up a list of accomplishments that are the stuff of young gymnasts’ dreams: gold medals on vault and floor exercise, a silver on balance beam and even a photo with Olympic legend Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan, a fellow vault finalist.
“She’s really the sweetest human,” Roberson gushed on a media call with reporters earlier this month, the stars in her eyes plainly evident.
A little intimidated, Roberson initially kept her distance and watched the eight-time Olympian Chusovitina practice.
“But then for vault finals obviously we were in the same group, and we got to talking. She’s just so sweet,” Roberson said. “I was like, ‘Good luck!’ And at the end (coach) Cecile (Landi) was like, ‘We’ve got to get a picture,’ because I was too scared to ask for one.”
So even the burgeoning confidence Roberson has discovered since moving to train at Simone Biles’ World Champions Centre gym last autumn has its limits. (In all fairness, Chusovitina tends to have that effect on people.)
Confidence was something the open and accessible Roberson returned to again and again during the call, which also touched on what it’s been like leaving Texarkana to train near Houston (“You can go out and go to Topgolf or go to the big movie theater or go to the humongous shopping mall that has so many shopping places you’re going to be broke by the time you get out of there”), her love for her dogs Rocky and Apollo and Pomeranians in general (“I think I am going to have 18 when I get older!”) and bonding with Biles over on-and-off battles with the dreaded twisties (“She said how much she hated that feeling, and I was like, ‘Yes, yes girl, I understand.’”)
A child prodigy who could do elite-level tumbling by the time she was in third grade, Roberson came up through a club in Texarkana but felt her progress stall as she entered the senior elite ranks last year.
“Somehow something switched, and I just lost all my confidence on everything,” she said. “It was just never good, I don’t think.”