When Evita Griskenas was a child, she drew images of herself not just as an Olympian, but as an Olympic medalist.
Now, the 20-year-old rhythmic gymnast is hoping to bring those drawings to life.
“There’s drawings that I would make when I was little of me standing on a little podium like holding a medal and on the bottom of it the caption says like ‘Olympics,'” the young, first-time Olympian from Orland Park told NBC Chicago.
Griskenas is one of two suburban gymnasts competing in the individual rhythmic gymnastics event. She’ll be joined by Libertyville’s Laura Zeng, who competed in the 2016 Rio Games but did not advance to the final for the event, though she did earn the best U.S. finish in rhythmic gymnastics since 1984.
Both train at the North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center, which is also the home of the rhythmic gymnastics team competing in Tokyo.
“It feels thrilling, but also in a way, full of responsibility because now I’m not only responsible to myself and my family and, you know, my coaches and stuff, but also to my country and to represent rhythmic gymnastics like from USA is a really big deal to me and I want to do the best that I can do when I perform,” she said.
Griskenas described rhythmic gymnastics as a combination of “gracefulness and elegance” mixed with “lots of strength.”
“There’s lots of cross training that’s involved that incorporates ballet technique and dance, as well as, again, lots of like strength training and conditioning,” she said.
The qualification rounds for the event begin at 8:20 p.m. CT.
HOW TO WATCH: Stream it live here.