A Born Identity

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Panama City Beach, FL-- Watching Alex and Andrew Hess leap from bar to bar or ring to ring, doesn't require an Olympic coach to realize these two young men have athleticism in spades. So how did they fall in love with gymnastics?

"This is the sport that was meant for me" says the older brother, Alexander, who is 17.

And that certainly is unique since it is such a niche sport in this country, and certainly in the panhandle, but not the country the Hess boys are from the Ukraine.

Both were adopted respectively at the ages of 6 and 4.

However, despite living the first few years of their life in a country where gymnastics is one of the more popular sports, they did not step in to a gymnasium until they were in the United States.

Ted Williams asked Andrew Hess, who is 15, and like his brother, a student at Arnold High School in Panama City Beach, if he thought gymnastics was something that was just in the boys' blood?

Andrew immediately replied "Yeah!" When asked if he had any idea why, he simply said "No."

And frankly, the "why" doesn't matter because both Andrew and Alexander will be heading to the Men's Junior Olympic Championships in Portland, Oregon this week to compete against the top male gymnasts in America.

"We're not only a small town but a small gym and so making it out there and getting to the big show is a big deal."

A big deal that Alexander not only realizes, but is excited for,

"It's something that will get my gymnastics path even more accelerated."

And since it started almost 10,000 miles away, I would say it's a path well traveled.

The Hess boys both say they hope to compete in collegiate gymnastics and if at all possible, maybe even realize their Olympic dreams.