Local Gymnast has Sights Set on Olympics

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A local gymnast says he wants a spot on the 2012 U.S. Men's Olympic Team. Now he's working hard to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of his dreams.

"That's my dream," said Olympic hopeful Charlie Tamayo. "To have an opportunity to go the Olympics."

For Cuban-born Tamayo, the path to that dream starts right here in Grand Junction. He currently works at Colorado West Gymnastics where he trains and teaches.

"He is really upbeat," said Terri Rahm, owner of Colorado West Gymnastics. "He's a very positive individual with the kids."

But Tamayo is not your average, run-of-the-mill instructor. Since 1999, he has competed at the world level for the Cuban national team. He's earned seventeen medals, including a gold medal at the 2002 World Cup.

"I've got everything except the Olympics," said Tamayo. "That's the last thing in my record. That's what I'm hoping for."

But there's still one obstacle standing in the way of making his dreams a reality.

"If his citizenship papers come through, it is a real possibility for him," said Rahm.

Tamayo moved to the U.S. several years ago with the intention of becoming a citizen. He filed his papers three years ago, and says his lawayer tells him that they've been sitting on the government's desk since then.

"It's tough," said Tamayo. "It's very frustrating, but what can I do?"

Through it all, he remains confident things will work out in the end.

"Things happen for a reason," said Tamayo. "I believe that I'm in the right place at the right time."

In the meantime, he continues to train and do what he loves.

"Having the opportunity to work with kids is my big motivation," said Tamayo. "I want to push them and I want them to push me."

His students and co-workers say they're right there with him.

"Absolutely we're rooting for him -- you bet," said Rahm. "We'll be behind him the whole way."

With the support of his friends and his drive to succeed, Tamayo is confident he will grace the podium in the 2012 Olympics.

"It's going to happen," said Tamayo.

The 2012 Olympics will be held in London.

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