EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a series of profiles on the 2019 class of the Clinton County Sports Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony and announcement of the winner of the 2019 Wilmington News Journal Clinton County Scholar-Athlete Award is 6 p.m. June 26 at the Expo Center on the Clinton County Fairgrounds. Reservations and payment can be made at the News Journal office. Cost is $25 per reservation. UP NEXT: Alan Ledford.
As a youngster, Angie Whiting Bahr could have been nicknamed “Cartwheel.”
As a teenager, her nickname should have changed to “Champion.”
By the time her gymnastics career stopped, Bahr was a champion at the regional, national and world levels.
That she can be considered the greatest gymnast in Clinton County history is a product of her coach Joni Streber, who said Bahr was the best among the 15 world champions she coached. Streber was inducted into the Clinton County Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.
Bahr grew up watching her sister Susan Schaeffer cheer with Joni Streber.
“When Susan and Joni were practicing I’d be in the yard cart-wheeling,” Bahr said. “Everywhere my mom took me all I did was cart-wheel.”
So it seemed natural when Streber started her gymnastics school at age 14 in 1971, Bahr was eager to join.
“My mom thought ‘We’re going to put her in a class because all she does is flip around the house’,” Bahr recalled.
And almost from the first time she tumbled on a mat in the Nellie Moore Christian Education Building at the First Christian Church, Bahr was a hit.
“I didn’t think that much about how good I was; it was just my life,” she said. “(Later in life) when I started going to church and became a Christian, became humble, I realized God gave that (ability) to me and surrounded me with the people who helped me use those God-given talents.
“Now I look at it and am amazed with what I did.”
Growing up a gymnast wasn’t easy, though.
“In elementary school there were a lot of people who didn’t like me because ‘she’s a gymnast’,” Bahr said.
She never gave in. In fact, she worked harder. Four days a week training in Wilmington then three days a week in Fairfield (to work with coach Dennis Harget) and Bahr was at the top of her game.
She won her first national title in 1978 in Denver. She traveled to Hawaii and finished second in the World Cup in 1978.
The national title list grew to no fewer than eight. She won the Gold Medal in power tumbling at the World Games in 1981 in Santa Clara, California.
“Until I got into high school, I probably never thought about anything else,” she said of gymnastics. “That was my life.”
It was a good one and she had a good support system around her.
“My mom, Joni and the Lord pulling all these people in my direction,” Bahr said.
Bahr earned a national Junior Olympic title in 1982 in trios with Cheri Newman and Jessica Knaff. Bahr and Knaff were runnersup at Junior Nationals in 1982.
It was a third place overall finish that turned out to be the most memorial experience of them all for Bahr. In the World Cup in Bozeman, Montana, Bahr was third individually. She was one of four members of the U.S. National Power Tumbling Team that took first overall.
“Even though I didn’t get first individually, that one sticks out more than (World Games) because of the experience,” she said.
It also turned out to be her last competition. During practice the week leading up to the World Cup, Bahr hurt her back.
When she returned to Wilmington, she realized her gymnastics career was now behind her.
“I got home and it was summer time, there were other things to do,” she said. “I was getting a little older and I just thought, ‘Yea, I think I’m done’. After going seven days a week (for so long), I was ready to step away.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wnjsports