Jump rope team heads to Olympics

Posted July 28, 2008 8:46 a.m. EDT
Updated June 29, 2010 9:06 p.m. EDT

— Fresh off capturing their fifth national title in rope jumping, members of the Bouncing Bulldogs team will head to China next month to perform for Olympic athletes and work to get their sport recognized as an Olympic event.

Ten members of the Bouncing Bulldogs will entertain athletes in the Olympic Village in Beijing, coach Ray Fredrick said.

"We are going to try and do three to four shows per day," Fredrick said. "If you are jumping in front of that many people, it's going to help promote the sport."

The Durham-based team has traveled around the world to promote rope jumping, including performances in Japan and South Africa and opening an event in San Francisco for Oscar-winning actress and former "American Idol" contestant Jennifer Hudson.

The 107 members of the Bouncing Bulldogs have won five national championships, and Morgan Smith is the top-ranked girl jumper under age 14.

"Practice is all it takes – practice, practice, practice," she said.

Fredrick has been coaching champion jumpers for two decades.

"If you find a person with a good attitude (and) that's highly motivated, you can do amazing things with that person," he said.

The Bouncing Bulldogs are skipping an international competition for the chance to perform in Beijing. Their ultimate goal is to have rope jumping approved as an Olympic sport.

"There's just a lot to learn from athletes of that high caliber," team member Mary Hunter Benton said of being around Olympians.