Pac-10 Q&A with Anna Li, UCLA Women's Gymnastics

Jan. 21, 2009

A Few Casual Moments with Anna Li

A 2008 first-team All-American on uneven bars, Anna Li was one of the nation's top all-arounders last season, ranking 14th in the country while posting a season average of 39.372. On her event of specialty, the uneven bars, Li won a share of the title at the NCAA Southeast Regionals, scoring a 9.95. In her nine completed all-around competitions in 2008, Li placed first five times and second once. In total, she captured 19 individual victories - seven on bars, two on beam, four on floor and five in the all-around Li's all-around career-best of 39.6 won the IGI Chicago-Style meet, where she also won bars (9.95) and beam (9.9) ... Courtesy of

On my iPod... Right now my most heavily listened to playlist is a pump-up mix, since it’s competition season. If I had to choose one song on that mix to listen to over and over, it would be I’m in LA, Trick.  It’s sort of the team’s signature song, since our “home turf” is L.A., and the song gets our team really excited before a competition. I also listen to lots of Taylor Swift; my current favorite by her is Love Story.
Love to trade places for a day with... Former UCLA women’s gymnastics standout Heidi Moneymaker. A few years after her collegiate athletic career ended, she began a career  as a stunt double. She has stunted for big-budget Hollywood movies that include Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Mission Impossible III, and Ocean’s Thirteen, as well as a handful of TV shows. I’m interested in stunt doubling for a couple of years after my eligibility expires. It would be fun to see how the “business” works.
Talent I’d most like to have... I would love to be a martial arts specialist. I actually have a friend who knows the practices and traditions of martial arts extremely well. He has promised to teach me after this gymnastics season ends. Martial Arts Poses
Team on campus that does the best job of packing our stands... Our team is actually extremely friendly with all of the student-athletes on campus. Therefore, we get great support from everyone. It used to be tradition that the football players would come to our meets dressed as referees. This year, the freshman dorm floors made a sign for all the first-years on our team. Personally, the best sign I’ve ever seen in the gym was during my freshman year; my dad came to the meet from China, so someone made a sign for me in Chinese. I had no idea what it said, because I don’t speak Chinese, but the thought that someone put into it was very moving.
To be honest, I’m not extremely caught up in politics, but what Obama’s done to reshape the system is exciting. This was the first presidential election in which I could vote, so I did follow the issues much more than I have in the past. Our team watched the Inauguration ceremony together in the training room before hitting the gym for workout. I think there’s a real connectivity between people and politics right now.


Best community outreach experience... Marathon Kids. UCLA is a proud partner of this program, which encourages kids of all ages to run a full marathon over the course of an academic year. The mission of the organization is to combat childhood obesity and diabetes. The marathon mileage count begins in the fall and ends in the spring with a lap run around the UCLA track. The Bruin student-athletes line the track to cheer and give High 5s, and some even run with the kids. Our team traditionally signs autographs and poses for pictures, as well. Marathon Kids
Both of my parents competed in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. The gymnastics competitions were hosted in [UCLA’s] Pauley Pavilion. So here I am, 25 years later, competing on the same gym floor on which my parents achieved great success. They both medaled for China, though I am vague on the events. I believe my father’s men’s team won a silver medal, and my mom might have earned the bronze on beam. It might also be surprising for people to learn that I have a seven year old little sister. She has followed in the family’s gymnastics footsteps: a Level 5 athlete, she just nabbed her first all-around championship.


1984 Olympic Medals
Favorite athlete in a sport other than gymnastics... I am not particularly enthralled with any one athlete. Rather, I enjoy hearing many athletes’ stories about training and mental toughness. It is neat to compare my own routines to those of other athletes, regardless of sport. I do recognize John Wooden as owning some of the great stories in American sports. It is a thrill, as a Bruin, to be able to meet him, visit his house, and talk with him. He actually comes to many of our home meets. Through his mentoring, I have adopted his Definition of Success - Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.
Patience. I know that I need to take little steps, but gymnasts live for being on the competition floor. I have learned to see progress through small accomplishments. It is refreshing to know that the team has my back, that while I cannot be part of the competition lineup, they are stepping up and getting the job done in my place.


Social Welfare. The professor was amazingly energetic and passionate about the subject matter! The course mostly addressed violence and abuse resulting from gangs. I found it interesting, exciting, and personal to my intentions of combatting social welfare in the future. I actually am a sociology major. I am motivated by children’s stories that address their difficult life experiences.


What my sights are set on after college... I adore kids, so I’ve often contemplated teaching. If I decide to continue academic pursuits after my undergrad experience, I might consider law school with a focus in family law.
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