5-Year-Old Gymnast a Worldwide Sensation, But at What Price?

Filed under: In The News, Weird But True, Amazing Kids



At age 5, most kids are reading Dr. Seuss, if they can read at all. The next book Giuliano Stroe cracks open might be the Guinness Book of World Records.

That's because Giuliano is entered in a highly improbable category for a kindergartner: Hand walking. The little guy holds the world record -- 10 meters (or 33 feet) for walking on his hands.

Forgot to mention: With a weight ball between his legs.

That isn't Giuliano's only claim to fame. These days, the Romanian-born gymnastic prodigy is a YouTube sensation with the little guy showing off his washboard abs and an array of scary tricks in more than 60 videos. As of this morning, one of those -- showing Giuliano doing back flips off a kitchen table -- has been watched an astonishing 4.2 million times. So, hurray for Giuliano who obviously packs big talent in that little, muscle-bound body.

But we wanted to hear from a grown-up in that family.
ParentDish reached Giuliano's father and coach, Iulian Stroe to ask why he's training his 5-year-old like a Navy SEAL.

He told us that there isn't anything excessive about his son's workout routine and that people misjudge him and his young son.

"It's not wrong what we do, because I did the same things [when] I was a little boy and I am healthy and strong," Stroe wrote in an e-mail.

He doesn't pay much attention to critics who don't know anything about him or his son.

"They say these things because they are lazy people. They find motivation in not doing sport."

Stroe lives with his family in Italy; he coaches his son five days a week, with sessions lasting three hours. Giuliano has a 3-year-old workout partner, his younger brother, Claudio.

And what does the boys' mother think of her little ones hand-standing and back-flipping around the kitchen?

"She is very proud," according to Stroe.

Sports prodigies are rare, of course. But some parents are working just as hard as the Stroes to turn their little ones into sports champs. Keith O'Dell Jr., a 2-year-old pool shark, chalks up his cue two- to three hours a day.

The world's youngest boxer may be 7-year-old Wayne "Bam Bam" "Pretty Boy" Lawrence, who in addition to ring skills, has his own Web site, a hit single and has been featured in a documentary.
Then there's four-year-old tennis whiz Mia Lines, who already has a career ambition: Win Wimbledon.

ParentDish sports reporter Mark Hyman is the author of Until It Hurts: America's Obsession With Youth Sports and How It Harms our Kids (Beacon Press).

Have a suggestion for an article on youth sports? Contact Mark at pdyouthsports@aol.com
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.