Farm to France: Levi Jung-Ruivivar vaults to the Olympics

Two weeks before her 18th birthday, incoming freshman gymnast Levi Jung-Ruivivar found herself one perfect routine away from qualifying for the Olympics. 

Jung-Ruivivar represented the Philippines at the 2024 FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Cup series in Doha last month. But heading into the final routine on uneven bars, she needed a perfect 30 Olympic qualification points to make the 2024 Paris Olympics. 

“[My coach and I] decided it was in my best interest to just go big and do my harder routine, which I’ve never actually competed before,“ Jung Ruivivar said. “It was a very big risk to do it, but I was like, I might as well go all in, do what I can and give it my best.”

Jung-Ruivivar stuck the routine and vaulted herself to the 2024 Olympics, becoming the youngest Filipino athlete going to Paris this year.

“I felt completely disconnected from my body, and I dissociated,” Jung Ruivivar said. “I just felt so incredibly happy and there was so much joy in my heart.”

Hailing from Los Angeles, Jung-Ruivivar began her gymnastics journey at the age of one-and-a-half, at her mom’s suggestion. She gradually made her way up the U.S. women’s gymnastics program ladder, ultimately becoming a four-time USA Elite National Team Member. 

At the end of 2022, Jung-Ruivivar, whose father is Filipino, made the transition from Team USA to the Philippines, for which she has competed since.

“I decided [transitioning to the Philippines] would give me more opportunities to compete and a little bit more flexibility,” Jung-Ruivivar said. “Also, it was exciting to connect with that part of my heritage.”

Jung-Ruivivar’s Olympic berth was the culmination of years of work and sacrifice. One year prior to her Olympic qualification in Doha, exactly to the day, Jung-Ruivivar had to undergo bilateral foot surgery. She was unsure, following her surgery, whether she would be able to compete at the same level again.

Her family, teammates and coaches served as sources of motivation for her, supporting her through the post-surgery recovery, as well as all the difficulties and setbacks she encountered along her gymnastics journey.

“They give me the strength and the motivation to keep going and to push through those hard times,” Jung-Ruivivar said.

She signed with Stanford in September last year, after verbally committing the December prior. Stanford has always been her top option, but she said it was the campus visit that really sealed the deal.

“We were on the golf carts, and we were driving around campus. And I just saw a bunch of people playing volleyball, and there were people sitting on the grass and conversing. I was like I could totally see myself here,” Jung-Ruivivar said.

She said she was also inspired by Stanford women’s gymnastics’ work ethic and resilience, after the team overcame a rocky start last season to finish fifth at the NCAA National Championship. 

“I remember watching them qualify to nationals, and being so excited for them,” she said. “And [seeing] Chloe’s last routine on floor where she got a 10 … it was just such an amazing moment for them.”

Jung-Ruivivar expressed excitement about joining Stanford’s program this upcoming season, as well as working with head coach Tabith Yim, whom she greatly admires.

“She’s like one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met, and I know she’ll do anything for the program,” Jung-Ruiviar said.

She is no stranger to her future teammates either — sophomore gymnast Taralyn Nguyen met Jung-Ruivivar during her campus visit last year. 

“I thought she was friendly, outgoing and energetic, but also very committed to her gymnastics,” Nguyen said of her first impression of Jun-Ruivivar. “I’m excited to see what that will bring next year.”

Temple Landry, a freshman gymnast from Minnesota, said she is thrilled to be reunited with Jung-Ruivivar after having trained in the same club gym for four years. Landry highlighted Jung-Ruivivar’s clean, beautiful and artistic style, which she believes will add another dimension to the team next season.

“It’s more rare now to see someone as artistic as Levi is,” Landry said. “I believe she’s going to bring a lot of artistry to our team.”

Landry predicts the Filipino American gymnast will be a strong contributor to the team in her first season, especially given her strengths on beam and bar.

Jung-Ruivivar is currently competing for the Philippines at the 2024 Asian Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. She will arrive on campus in the fall and plans to major in either psychology or communications.

“I am excited to live on the beautiful campus every day, compete for Stanford and build meaningful connections with people,” Jung-Ruivivar said.

But before then, Jung-Ruiviar will make a stop in Paris for the 2024 Olympics in late July, where she hopes to clinch a podium finish.

*A previous version of this article did not specify whether the scoring system mentioned was the Olympic qualification points or another scoring system. The articles has now been updated to fix this error.

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