ASU gymnast Anne Kuhm has a certain je ne sais quoi

The junior French gymnast has already impacted Sun Devil gymnastics squad

Being the only athlete on her team from another country is a task junior gymnast Anne Kuhm had to face when she joined the ASU gymnastics program this season. She was presented with an array of obstacles to overcome but has succeeded in her first year as a Sun Devil.  

Hailing from Brumath, France, Kuhm came to ASU with a number of notable accomplishments, including being a member of the French national team since 2009 and competing in the 2012 London Olympics for team France

With a surplus of accomplishments on her resume, Kuhm made a heavy impact on the Sun Devils' season right away, leading her teammates on bars with a 9.825 in their first meet of the season.

For Kuhm, competing on the college level has differed from her other experiences because now, it’s not only about her own accomplishments, but the team's as well.

“The bigger difference here is everyone is cheering for you,” Kuhm said. “You have your entire team when you’re doing your routine, and you’re competing not for yourself, but for a team.”

Kuhm progressed after her debut, notching career-highs throughout the first two months of the season – her most recent achievement being a 9.900 on vault and 9.925 on floor in a historic victory over rival Arizona. Head coach Jay Santos said he has noticed her development and points back to how quickly she’s become acclimated to the college gymnastics environment.

Courtney Kane
Graphic published on Wednesday, March 14, 2018.

“NCAA’s a little different than elite,” Santos said. “We’ve always seen the gymnastics in practice, and I think she’s just gotten more accustomed to competing and how we do it here.”

Santos said that he's seen Kuhm transition successfully and believes she has settled into her new role.

However, it’s not just her success on the mat that makes Kuhm essential to the program – it’s how she’s received outside of the meets as well.  

“Anne is literally the sweetest person,” junior Justine Callis said. “She’s hilarious. We didn't know how funny she was until we got to know her a little more ... she’s constantly taking the pressure off of situations, especially in competition settings."

Callis said she hasn't competed with anyone more consistent than Kuhm, and that it's one of her strongest characteristics.

“Mentally she’s just a really tough gymnast because she's not all over the place,” Callis said. “She’s not overly emotional, and she keeps things in perspective.”

While Callis said her teammate may show a light and fun personality, when game time arrives, Kuhm is a vehement gymnast.

“I think she’s fierce, and I think a lot of her background helps her out on the competition floor because she’s been to the Olympics, she’s been to Worlds (and) she’s done a lot of competitions with a lot of high-pressure situations," Callis said. “She does a good job of bringing that consistency she has in the gym onto the mat." 

To her teammates and coaches, Kuhm has displayed excellence throughout the season, but Kuhm believes she still has room to grow in each of her routines. 

“My vaults are becoming better and I'm focusing on high-landing much more than I used to,” Kuhm said. “On bars, I'm trying to slow down and do what Jay (Santos) told me to do, just slow down and take my time."

Kuhm noted that one of the differences coming from international gymnastics to college meant a difference in how she competed. For example, her floor routine as a Sun Devil is more lively and full of smiles.

“On floor, I have a lot more than I used to have because in elite you can smile and everything, but it's not the same,” Kuhm said.

Kuhm and the rest of her teammates will travel up the coast of California to Sacramento one more time for their final meet of the regular season. The meet is slated for 7 p.m. MST on Friday, March 16 against Sacramento State, Oregon State and UC Davis.


Reach the reporter at klbroder@asu.edu or follow @KellyBSays on Twitter. 

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