Pat Besong's photo

Gymnastics

Like, me in action

In high school, I was the 1977 PA State All Around Champion. I set a new state all around record that year. I also won the Parallel Bars at the PIAA State Championships, too, and was selected to the High School All American Team.

I got a scholarship to Penn State and competed until 1981 when I graduated. I was pretty mediocre in college. I made it to the the 1980 USA Championships, but didn't do real well. I think I was kind of burned out by then for the year to be honest. My best scores were a 55.65 in the All Around and a 9.8 on the Still Rings. I could hold a pretty mean iron cross (and even pull out of it). I also did full twisting double back somersaults for my rings and high bar dismounts and a double back somersault on the floor exercise. It's amazing I'm still alive, actually. Glad I don't have to do that anymore! I used to have chronic tendonitis pretty bad in my wrists. It was a major difficulty just to practice, let alone to progress.

Gymnastics is a very demanding sport, both physically and emotionally. I'm not sure people really appreciate what it takes to achieve excellence in gymnastics. Getting a scholarship for gymnastics is no "free ride" as they used to call it. We paid our way and then some through some pretty hard work in the gym. Still, it was some of the best memories of my life. I got to travel and see the whole country, and I'll always recall fondly my teammates, coaches, and others whom I grew to know during my years in gymnastics. Now I'm pretty content to watch gymnastics meets. I designed and maintained the first PSU Men's and Women's Gymnastics websites for several years. A few years ago, I was inducted into the Ambridge Sports Hall of Fame. It was surprising to get such an honor so many years after being out of gymnastics. It's kind of funny that after all these years, I still occaisionally dream I'm competing in a meet somewhere. Must be similar to chronic stress disorder or something. Weird.

I also have trouble from arthritis in my joints. It's gotten so bad I need to use a walker. Still can't get the hang of using it yet.

Pat doing a handstand on his mother's walker