The American gymnastics world has produced so many stellar women athletes who have given their best to the sport and made the country proud. These women are a beacon for young girls dreaming of following in their footsteps.
Here are six of the finest American women gymnasts that your kids can look up to for inspiration.
Mary Lou Retton
When Mary Lou Retton started out in gymnastics, the sport was dominated by Eastern European and Russian gymnasts. Mary Lou herself was inspired to take up the sport after watching the legendary Nadia Comaneci on TV.
Under the guidance of Comaneci’s former coaches, Bela and Marta Karolyi, Mary Lou earned a spot in Team USA for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Despite her injuries before the event, she bagged two bronzes, two silvers, and one gold in the all-around. The latter made Mary Lou the first American and the first non-Eastern European female gymnast to win an all-around Olympic gold. Until the early 1990s, Mary Lou is one of the most popular athletes in the US.
Watch a recap of Mary Lou Retton’s 1984 Olympics performance: https://bit.ly/3h2M9Xm.
Aly Raisman is one of the most decorated American women gymnasts in history. She served as team captain in the 2012 London Olympics and the 2016 Rio Olympics, winning three golds, two silvers, and one bronze. Aly made history in London 2012 for being the first American woman to win gold at floor exercises. She also hauled medals from various competitions, including the FIG World Cup, the Pacific Rim Championships, and the World Championships.
Aly is known for her grace and solid performances. She showed the extent of her bravery when she came out as one of the survivors of the Larry Nasser child abuse scandal. After retiring as a professional gymnast, she now champions protecting child athletes from would-be predators.
Watch Aly Raisman’s Olympics performances: https://bit.ly/2U26ALX.
Before Simone Biles tumbled into the scene, Shannon Miller occupied the top spot in the list of most decorated American gymnasts. Throughout her career, Shannon earned 49 national medals and 59 international medals. These include seven from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and the 1996 Atlanta Centennial Olympics. In Barcelona 1992, she became the first American to win an individual all-around in a non-boycotted Olympics. And she was part of the Magnificent Seven, the team that earned the US’s first-ever gold medal in women’s gymnastics in Atlanta 1996 and inspired a new generation of women gymnasts.
Upon retirement from gymnastics, Shannon studied law and became an advocate for women’s and children’s health. She also survived a rare form of ovarian cancer.
Watch Shannon Miller’s graceful display at the 1996 US Gymnastics Championships: https://bit.ly/3qlFqvM.
Unlike the other American women gymnasts on this list, Morgan Hurd has yet to earn a medal from any Olympic event. She also recently announced that she will not participate in the Olympic Trials for Tokyo 2021. Nonetheless, Morgan has her own medals collection. These medals came not just from national events but also from international meets like the Pan American Games and the Pacific Rim Championships. She was the World all-around champion in 2017.
What makes Morgan special is she represents an underappreciated type of American gymnast: one of Asian descent. She’s also one of the very few elite gymnasts around who compete while wearing corrective eyeglasses. Her successes coming into the 2020 Olympics cycle have put the spotlight on the achievements of other Asian-Americans in gymnastics.
Watch Morgan Hurd display her talent at the 2021 US Gymnastics Championships: https://bit.ly/3daFAk9.
Dominique Dawes belongs to a rare class of American athletes—those who have competed in the Olympics three times. Nicknamed “Awesome Dawesome,” Dominique participated in Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, and Sydney 2000. Like Shannon Miller, she’s part of the Magnificent Seven and spent ten years with Team USA. More importantly, she’s the first African-American female athlete and the first Black person of any gender and nationality to win gymnastics gold in the Olympics. Dominique also has four medals from the World Championships, as well as 15 National Championships medals.
Upon retirement, Dominique became a motivational speaker and advocated for issues like health and fitness, youth issues, and autism awareness. She is also the founder of the Dominique Dawes Gymnastics Academy.
Watch Dominique Dawes’ amazing floor exercise at the 1995 US Championships: https://bit.ly/3zTAWAU.
There’s no question why Simone Biles belongs on this list. She is, after all, the greatest gymnast of all time. She has the biggest collection of gymnastics medals in the world, five of which came from the 2016 Rio Olympics. Additionally, Simone currently holds the record of having the most World Championships medals in the sport’s history, as well as the most World Championships gold medals that any gymnast has earned thus far.
Simone is known for her determination, courage, and persistence. She continues to break concrete ceilings throughout her ongoing career. Moreover, in a society where women are told to be modest about their achievements, Simone owns her greatness. Her fierceness and bravery serve as an inspiration to all girls, whether or not they’re aspiring to be gymnasts.
Watch Simone Biles’ all-around events at the 2021 GK US Classic: https://bit.ly/3gZJr4V.