Teen describes mental challenge for back handspring record

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FULTON COUNTY, Ga. —

A Fulton County teenager who believes she set the world record for back handsprings said the mental challenge was at least as hard as the physical challenge.

Channel 2's Jeff Dore went to Westlake High School to find out what it takes to be a champion.

On a whim one day, Westlake High cheerleader Mikayla Clark tried a back handspring. She did it. And did it again.

“She's been cheering since she was 4 years old,” said Mikayla’s mom, Erica Watts.

Those handsprings led to more and more.

“She did over 20. I was just like, ‘Whoa.’ Everybody was like, ‘whoa,’” said cheerleading coach Ashley Clark.

Then Mikayla saw that the Guinness World Record was 36 and set out to break it.

“Right after I saw the video, I did 20. Then two weeks later I did 32,” Mikayla said.

Friends and her coach helped train her mental stamina.

“They were just saying, ‘OK Mikayla, you can do it, you can do it,’” Mikayla said.

Mikayla had to toughen her body.

“You have to get your body used to fighting through the pain, ‘cause the track is hard,” Mikayla said.

She sprang so fast, her counters had to look at the video to be sure she did 44.

“I had a personal goal to get to 50 but I only stopped at 44, so I was kind of disappointed. But I had still broke the record, so my principal was like, ‘Mikayla, stop the drama and wave to the people,’” Mikayla said.

She got a standing ovation from her friends, family and peers.  

Records are fragile, but her place of honor is cemented with the shoes she wore now enshrined in the school trophy case.

Even Robin Roberts cheered for her on “Good Morning America.”

“I guess having the right to say I'm a world record holder is the best part,” Mikayla said.