I can trace my love for the Olympics back to a very specific start.
It was 1996 and the Magnificent Seven was heading to the Olympics in Atlanta.
At the same time, I was taking gymnastics. I basically thought I was Dominique Moceanu. I remember my parents buying me a brand new white crushed velvet leotard with rhinestones on it (because what’s a gymnastics outfit without some bling) and thinking, This is it. Here I am. I swear, it made me tumble harder and run faster at that vault.
During the 1996 Olympics, those seven gymnasts were shining.
And there was one special moment that always sticks out. Kerri Strug. The vault. An injured ankle. I know you know what I’m talking about. Seeing her stick that landing and then watching coach Béla Károlyi carry her to get her medal. Have you ever seen anything so inspiring? That year is when it all started happening for USA women’s gymnastics.
Though I gave up the sport within just a couple of years to return to my first love, soccer, gymnastics continues to be my hands-down favorite sport to watch. And between the Final Five we had this year, our amazing swim team and so many other great athletes representing our country, athletics-wise, I thought it was a pretty great Olympics.
In the spirit of the closing of this year’s games, which officially happened last night, here are some interesting facts about the Games and their medals.
1. One of our own designed the medals. With the 2004 Olympic Games returning to their starting place, the Committee decided there should be a redesign of the medals, marking the first time they had seen any significant change since 1928.