Shannon Miller, who will turn 24 on March 10, is a two-time World Champion and an Olympic Gold Medalist. Shannon was a member of the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal Team and earned the beam gold medal as well. In fact, Shannon is the most decorated American gymnast in history, winning more world and Olympic medals than any other gymnast, male or female. Shannon is originally from Oklahoma City, Okla., but now she and her husband Chris reside in Houston, Texas. We recently did an in-depth interview with Shannon and here’s what she had to say!
Q: When and why did you begin gymnastics?
A: I began gymnastics at age five. I was first involved in dance with my older sister. I loved to do whatever she loved to do. So, when she decided to stop dance so did I. One Christmas we asked for a trampoline and were very surprised when, on Christmas Day, Santa had brought one. We were soon teaching ourselves to do flips on the trampoline and climbing all over the furniture. My parents decided to enroll us in gymnastics. My mother called a few local gyms out of the phone book and we started taking lessons. I loved gymnastics from the first day I set foot in the gym. A few months later my sister moved on to another sport, but I was having too much fun to leave so I stayed in gymnastics. I have been in the sport for over 18 years now!
Q: What positive attributes have you developed from being a gymnast?
A: There are so many great things that gymnastics has given and continues to give me. Some of those things are the ability to set goals and work hard to see them through. I have learned how to both win and lose gracefully and with a feeling that I have always tried my best. I have learned to express myself in a way that I was too shy to do before. I learned how to be totally dedicated to something that I really wanted to do. I also learned that gymnastics is not all there is to life. I have learned how to keep my body, mind and soul healthy and strong. I have learned how to lean on God during some really tough times. This list could go on and on because in gymnastics, just as in life, you are constantly learning.
Q: What are you most proud of from your gymnastics career?
A: If I think back over my career in gymnastics there are so many awards, medals and honors that I have won but when I think of what I am most proud of I typically think of one thing. I’m very proud of being an Olympic gymnast as well as keep A’s in school and graduating on time with my class. In addition I was able to go to college while continuing to train for a second Olympics. I have added one more thing to be proud of after last years “comeback.” I am proud that I made the decision to get in shape to compete again in a sport that I love and I followed through on that decision. I had so many really rough days but somehow kept going. I think out of my whole career last year might have been the most exciting for me.
Q: What is your favorite event, why?
A: My favorites are balance beam and uneven bars. However, I think I have always preferred beam. I am the type of person that loves a challenge and I think beam is the event that was always the most feared. I wanted to overcome that and be able to feel at home up there.
Q: How was the TJ Maax Tour of World Gymnastics Champions that took place in the fall and winter of 2000?
A: The tour was fantastic! I had a great time. I think the best part for me was to be able to go on tour after my injury in July. After re-injuring my knee at Olympic trials I wasn’t sure how much I would be able to do. But, about a week after trials, it was just fine and gave me no problems. The other “best” thing about the tour for me was just being with all my friends again. Some of us have toured together many times, others were new, but we had a wonderful time traveling together.
Q: Who did you hang out with?
Q: There wasn’t really one person I hung out with while on tour. It kind of depended on who was doing what. Sometimes a group of us would go to the mall or a movie. Other times a couple of us would go swim or workout. So much of our time was either on the bus traveling or at rehearsals and the show so when we had time to do something we would usually just call the others; set a meeting time and then whoever wanted to go would show up.
Q: What was the most memorable stop?
A: There were a lot of memorable stops along the way!
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