Quick Chat- Sloan & Steady
June 07, 2012
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Sloan & Steady
By Evan Heiter
“'Hopefully’ is so much better than ‘no’.” These were the
remarks of a 16-year-old Bridget Sloan, talking about how she responded when
people asked if she was going to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. She ended up
being selected for the squad that took silver, and setting herself up to become
World All Around Champ in 2009. Injuries have plagued the charismatic
Midwesterner for much of the last two years. However, with renewed Olympic
spirit and a focus on the all around, Bridget Sloan is moving confidently in
the direction of her (second) Olympic dream.
Inside’s Evan Heiter
took a moment to chat with Bridget before she took to the podium for
yesterday’s afternoon training session.
Inside: What is
the biggest difference between doing Olympic level gymnastics as an almost
20-year-old opposed to a 15-year-old?
Bridget: Waking up in the morning and, ‘Ohhhh!’ pop your
back, pop your hips, pop your knees… When I was 15, I would just jump out of
bed and be like, “Let’s start the day!” And now I kind of roll out, get my cup
of coffee… then it starts. When I was 15, I was so young. Thinking back, like
in 2007, I was a baby. I had no experience under my belt, and now I have the
experience and those competitions. I’ve competed in the big leagues, and it’s
kind of unreal. It’s been bittersweet too. You look at how many injuries I’ve
had to go through but at the same time, how many medals I’ve won. It’s been a
dream come true.
Inside: Is your
outlook on making the Olympics still the same as that girl who said, “Hopefully
is so much better than no.” four years ago?
Bridget: Absolutely, 100%, because I know there are
thousands of people out there that would love to be at this competition and
competing, so being able to be an Olympic hopeful… I mean, wouldn’t you rather
be an Olympic hopeful than a nobody in the gymnastics world? You have to look
at the good things, even when they don’t feel so great. There’s always
something good that can come out of it.
Inside: Talk about
your decision to remain an amateur in the sport, and maintain your college
eligibility, despite being an Olympic medalist and World Champ.
Bridget: I’ve been told that I am the first World Champion
and Olympian to go to college because everyone else didn’t do it. I cannot wait
to compete for Florida and get that experience. Everybody that I talk to that
has done a college sport has been like, “Your eyes will be wide open. You will
have no idea what the feeling is like.” And I cannot wait to be a Gator and
represent that blue and orange– even though orange is not really one of my
favorite colors… thankfully they have blue.
Inside: Coming to
a meet like Visa Championships that you’ve been attending for years, do you
ever look at the Junior girls and reminisce thinking, “That was me!”?
[The junior women were finishing their podium training
around us as the interview was taking place.]
absolutely insane to look at them and be like, “I totally know how you’re
feeling right now.” And they look at me like, “No you don’t.” And [then] they
think…and they’re like, “Yeah…you do!” It’s been an awesome joy ride. I’ve been
so blessed and so thankful that I’ve been able to keep [doing gymnastics]… I’ve
been one of the healthier athletes that’s been at the junior– I started when I
was 13 and I’m now 19– and I’ve really had two surgeries, yes, but they were
very minor surgeries. I’ve really never had to deal with anything, besides bone
bruises– I’m very known for those– so I’ve been really happy to come back
here and compete all four events and know this might be my last hoorah, but I’m
going to give it my all.
With Sloan’s personal goals clarified as, “not looking at
winning anything”, it’s clear that she knows what to expect of herself in the
meets leading up to the Olympics. “Being clean and consistent”, she notes, are
her driving factors in helping Team USA. Bridget Sloan is one of three
Olympians competing in St. Louis who felt the success of a medal, but the
subtle sting of its silvery shine in Beijing. Her steadiness and outlook
promise to guide her far. Perhaps all the way to London.
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