When Chelsea Werner, a 25-year-old from Danville, CA, was diagnosed with Down syndrome, doctors told her parents that she would have low muscle tone for the rest of her life. Still, they enrolled her in a range of sports at a young age including soccer, baseball, swimming, and gymnastics. But something about gymnastics clicked.
Werner started working with a gymnastics coach, Dawn Pombo. Her local Special Olympics program in northern California was canceled, so Werner trained directly with USA Gymnastics. With Pombo's help, Werner learned to master the uneven bars and balance beam, but she really shined during the floor routine. For four years in a row, Werner competed in the Special Olympics National Gymnastics Championships and won.
These days, Werner still trains and competes in gymnastics around the world, but is now focused on expanding her modelling career. Werner signed with WeSpeak, a modelling agency that's committed to representing health conscious, drug-free models of all sizes and backgrounds, and she has walked in New York Fashion Week runway shows and starred in an H&M campaign.
Ahead, we talked to Werner about how she finds the strength to conquer her fears.