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In his genes: A boy glides to glory

Connor Allen is a natural.

He does double jumps. He does figure eights. He can spin around and land on one foot.

Until a year ago he had never skated.

"Now I love roller skating," Connor said recently, as he tied on a pair.

Both Connor, 10, and his mother, Robbi-Lee Allen, 43, roller skate competitively. They practice at Town & Country Skateworld skating rink and compete in national competitions. Connor will be competing at the National Skating Competition in Lincoln, Neb., until Aug. 11.

It's just like ice skating, "except we do the same thing on roller skates, or quads, as they are called in the sport," Mrs. Allen said.

She and her son started the sport when they moved to Tampa four years ago. Her husband, Kelly Allen, is the chef/owner of the Cino Grille at the Citrus Park mall. Neither had ever skated competitively. Connor, who will enter fourth grade at Incarnation Catholic School in Town & Country, had not skated at all.

"It was hot in Tampa and I didn't know anyone so we started going on Saturday mornings," Mrs. Allen said. They train four days a week at Town & Country Skateworld.

After just three months of lessons, Connor competed in the Lantana state games and won two silver medals. At the regional competition two weeks later, he won a gold medal; he took ninth at the national level after less than six months of training.

"He's a natural at it," said William Parker, who along with partner Shannon Zahniser coaches Connor and his mother.

"Connor has a lot of potential and he's very advanced. The future's endless for him," Parker said.

Parker challenged Connor to compete at a higher level in the national games. "He'll be skating against boys who are in their last year in the event and are three years older," Mrs. Allen said.

His three-minute nationals routine, which will be done to the themes from The Godfather and The Untouchables, will feature double axels, figure eights and plenty of foot work.

Connor isn't worried, though. He has beaten almost everyone he's skated against.