By Shannon Miller

In this regular segment, we hear from Olympic Champion Shannon Miller. She shares her opinion on current hot topics and more!

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{Q}: What do you think of the Olympic Team being reduced to four members?

{S.M.}: Like many, I feel like we’re losing a bit of the “team” aspect with only four members. However, countries can also qualify up to two additional spots for an all-around or individual event athlete.

For the US women’s team, this is good news because they are almost certain to qualify athletes for all six positions. This means more athletes would actually be competing for medals than we’ve had since 2008!

On the men’s side it’s going to be a bit trickier, but they have already begun working on a strategy for the next 3 1/2 years. I’m a firm believer in taking what seems to be a negative and making it a positive.

Go Team USA!

 

{Q}: How did you handle the post-Olympic hype and stay focused during the tours, appearances, etc. after Barcelona and Atlanta?

{S.M.}: Unfortunately, we had to learn the hard way how to cope with the post-Olympic hype. We were finding our way without much understanding of what each day would bring. I had received a glimpse of post-Olympic life after the 1992 Olympics.

We went on tour and I felt the pull of media, appearances and more obligation. I was still training for competition, so it was my coach, Steve Nunno, along with my parents, who helped me navigate my schedule.

However, nothing can compare to what we witnessed after winning the 1996 Olympic Games! We were on tour for 99 cities (almost a year and a half with little time off). I was retired at that point, but I relied a great deal on those time management skills I had gained throughout my career to keep up with the hectic schedule.

I learned the importance of sleeping and eating whenever I could. We were still performing and training most days of the week so keeping in shape was about conditioning and proper rest. It truly is an amazing time, you just enjoy every moment!

 

{Q}: Did you ever consider competing in NCAA gymnastics, and what do you think of the number of elites heading to NCAA programs now? It has become huge, with so many more athletes than ever making that transition.

{S.M.}: I never seriously considered competing NCAA, mostly due to timing.

I turned professional at the age of 13. At the time, there were not huge dollars to be made in the sport, but I was well aware that my parents simply could not continue with the expenses. Often I was the only gymnast traveling from our local team. That meant paying for myself as well as one or two coaches. We were competing to get as much experience as possible which meant traveling almost every weekend during the season. At the time, I knew I wanted to go to college but I never imagined I would still be doing gymnastics!

I do love that so many elites are choosing to go to NCAA programs. I think it’s a great way to get a college education while doing something you love. It’s also nice to feel like part of a team in a different way than you do as an elite. There is such comradery and such a bond between those athletes. It’s great to see and fun to watch!

 

This article was previously featured in the December 2016 issue of inside Gymnastics. To hear more from Olympic Champion Shannon Miller, subscribe to inside Gymnastics online or in the Apple App Store today!

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