Isabella Brookins, 14, and Leana Borodayev, 11, pose for a photograph inside the Rodina Elite Gymnastic Academy on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023. The duo won the national gymnastics competition in Oklahoma last June. Photo by Madelaine Church OBSERVER

By Mark Haynes | OBSERVER Correspondent

Isabella Brookins and Leana Borodayev from Rodina Elite Gymnastic Academy are making names for themselves in Sacramento and across the country.

The pair, winners of the national gymnastic competition in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 24, form one of the country’s best acrobatic gymnastic duos. Their most recent championship earned the girls the opportunity to compete in Chile for the international and Pan American teams.

Isabella Brookins, 14, balances her partner Leana Borodayev, 11, on her foot during practice inside the Rodina Elite Gymnastic Academy on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023.  Brookins and Borodayev have been partners since 2019. Photo by Madelaine Church OBSERVER

Brookins, 14, is the niece of the late Robert Brookins from the legendary music group Earth Wind & Fire. She started practicing gymnastics competitively at age 7 and her talented partner Borodayev, 11, started gymnastics right before her second birthday. It was a birthday gift from her father.

When the two learned they would start training together, Borodayev was ecstatic to receive the news.

“I thought Isabella was really cool and really, really flexible,” Borodayev told The OBSERVER.

Brookins fully embraced the new challenge. Her competitive mindset immediately made her think about what needed to happen for her and Borodayev to be successful.

“It was all really new to me, but I was ready for anything,” Brookins shared. “I was determined to go to a higher level because we were supposed to be at a really low level to start, but we convinced our coach to move us up.”

Once they started competing, the victories piled up and the parents began to realize something special was happening. “They were serious about it,” Carolyn Brookins, Isabella’s mother, told The OBSERVER. “Their first time together, they won first place, which continued at every event. They were very focused and determined, and they worked hard.”

The effort the girls are putting into their craft is paying off, but it has created some hardship for both families, who do what they can to travel for competitions worldwide. The farther they go, the more help they need, and family has been there every step of the way to help as much as possible.

“I have four kids,” Lana Borodayev told The OBSERVER. “Leana is the oldest, and my youngest is 1. Every time we travel, my mom stays with the kids.”

Going to Tulsa, Oklahoma, was costly, but the families rallied together to figure out how to make the trip possible. They’re doing the same with Chile in December. But this time, they could use help from their community. They’ve created a GoFundMe ( for anyone who wants to support the girls on this trip and on their journey to making it to the World Championships one day, which is Brookins and Borodayev’s goal.

“I’m just happy they get a chance to be exposed to so much,” Carolyn said. “I love that the girls recognize that and understand there’s so much more outside of Sacramento.”

Representing Sacramento and all girls in their region correctly has been important, and the families hope other locals get to witness Isabella and Leana’s accomplishments. You can keep up with the girls on Instagram ( and see past performances on YouTube.