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Costa ’22 wins national bars title

First-year gymnast ties school record in bars with 9.900 score in preliminaries

Mei Li Costa ’22 took home the national bars title at the 2019 USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate National Championships Sunday, earning a winning score of 9.8500 in the finals after tying Brown’s all-time bars record with a score of 9.900 in preliminaries. Costa was Brown’s second-ever national champion in gymnastics — joining Diana Walters ’16 — and was Bruno’s first-ever champion on bars. Costa was one of five USA Gymnastics All-Americans from Brown, the most All-Americans from the University since 2016. For Costa’s championship-winning weekend, she has been named the Herald’s Athlete of the Week.

Herald: Congratulations on an amazing performance at the national championships! What does it mean to you to win a national title?

Costa: It feels like a very surreal moment. It’s a great end to the season as well — to leave on a high note. It’s kind of something you go into and you don’t want to expect it, but you’re always hoping for it, so it’s nice to come full circle there.

This was your first year competing in gymnastics at the collegiate level. What additional challenges did that bring?

College gymnastics is a big adjustment from club gymnastics in high school. The team environment was something I had never really experienced. It’s a very individual sport, but in college you’re working much more with the team and you’re surrounded by them at all moments. It’s a really fun experience, and I’ve enjoyed that adjustment, but it still is an adjustment and coming in as a freshman to a brand-new group of people can be hard. But they are very supportive, and it’s nice to not just be competing for yourself anymore.

The rest of your team also performed very well this weekend, with five gymnasts earning All-American honors. How do you and your teammates support each other in a pressure-packed competition like the national championships?

What was a little bit sad for us was that we didn’t qualify together as a team, but it was nice that we all got to go. When somebody was competing, everyone in the stands would come over toward the event and cheer on their teammates. Just being there in the same way at every competition (and) having that consistent support system really helps.

Has bars always been your best event? Which other events do you enjoy?

Bars has always been my favorite event since I started doing gymnastics. I didn’t get to compete in everything this season, but usually I really like beam too. But bars has always been the one I loved the most and the one I had the most fun doing.

How do you mentally prepare yourself for an event?

For me, a lot of it is figuring out ways to calm my nerves. It kind of is different every meet, just because there are different things going through your head, whether it’s stress with school or just stress about the meet. A lot of times I’ll talk to one of my teammates about it, just to not have it sit in my head.

What are your athletic goals for your remaining time at Brown?

I would like to come back in the other events and compete all-around in the next few years. Hopefully, I can break the school bars record again, and go higher than just tying it. And, I’d like to make it to (NCAA Regional Championships) again.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


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