Most of us would have trouble doing one back handspring. Chelsey Kipping can do 32 in a row. In July 2010, the then 13-year-old gymnast from Valmeyer, Illinois, showed off her tumbling talents for an important cause: honoring a friend who had been killed by a drink driver with a new world record for Most Consecutive Back Handsprings.
RecordSetter: Tell us a bit about yourself! How old are you, where are you from and what do you like to do?
Chelsey: I’m 14-and-a-half years old (almost 15), I live in Valmeyer, IL. I’m a level nine gymnast and I’m obsessed with gymnastics so that takes up most of my time. I’ve also become a cheerleader. I love kids so I babysit whenever I can. My brother is in college. So when he comes home I really enjoy spending time with him. When I have days I’m not at gym I am with my best friend Miranda. Either watching her play her sports or just wasting time.
What made you set the handspring record?
I had done a “Flip-A-Thon as a fund raiser for my gymnastics at the Mid Summer Celebration in Valmeyer for a few years. Each year, I did more back handsprings. The announcers would always “interview” me between innings. It was Mel Patton and Artie Voellinger, and they were very nice and funny.
In 2009, I did 28 back handsprings. That year, Mel asked if I had ever considered trying for a world record. I had told him no, that it was just a fun way to make money for my gymnastics. Less than two months later, he was killed by a drunk driver. The last thing he told me to do was to attempt a record. It was then that I decided to try it in his honor. My Mom pitched the idea to the Valmeyer Area Jaycees, who along with the Valmeyer Lakers, host the Mid Summer Celebration. Since Mel was such a huge part of both, they decided I’d make the attempt right on the ball field before the championship game.
Watch Chelsey set her world record:
Did you run into any obstacles along the way? How did you handle them?
Not obstacles really. But on the day of the attempt, as I stepped out on to the field, everyone started chanting my name. (Mel was quite popular. When it was publicized that I was going for a world record in his name, hundreds of people jumped on board. Several of them sported the “This one’s for you Mel” t-shirts.) I became really nervous, but other than that not really!
How did it feel when you became a world record holder?
It took a while to sink in. When I finished my 32nd back handspring my friends tackled me and my brother Kyle was there to pick me up. The whole experience was overwhelming but now that I have accomplished it, it’s pretty cool.