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Indianapolis: Renee Posan (USA Gymnastics) & Aziza Kayumova

After a short drive from Chicago, we made it to Indianapolis where we visited two of our emerging leaders who have been learning together – Aziza at USA Gymnastics and Melissa at NCAA.

At age eight, Aziza’s mother enrolled her in martial arts. At the time, it was relatively unheard of for a mother in Tajikistan to encourage her daughter to play sports.

According to Aziza, “Tajik culture frowns upon girls having hobbies like sports – girls should be at home studying, cooking, or looking after the other kids, not pursuing sport or education.” But Aziza’s mother was insistent. She wanted her daughter to be an athlete because she herself was denied the opportunity to participate.

Aziza fell in love with sport and began training with the junior national and national teams in taekwondo. Shortly before Aziza entered the university, her family experienced a period of financial difficulty. So Aziza went to the local gym where she trained and asked for a job. They gave her a job in the product shop; between work, school, and training, Aziza was busy from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. every day.

After several months, Aziza’s coach found out about her employment at the gym. He offered her a job as an assistant coach for the children’s program. Aziza fell in the love with coaching and it was the catalyst that allowed her to launch her very own Dance and Sport Federation. Despite her youth, Aziza has become one of the most highly respected coaches in Tajik circles.

Because of Aziza’s passion for dance and martial arts, she is a fantastic match for USA Gymnastics. As part of her experience, Aziza has helped plan the “National Gymnastics Day,” an event proposed by First Lady Michelle Obama as part of the Let’s Move! Initiative. Although Aziza has some experience with event planning, this opportunity takes it to the next level. We are excited to see Aziza carry the torch for USA Gymnastics to the girls and women of Tajikistan.