Olympic Gymnasts You Don't Hear About Anymore

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Fans of gymnastics, and of the Olympics in general, know that the 2020 U.S. Olympic team is the one to beat. With the excitement of the Tokyo Games approaching, fans are eager to cheer on their favorites. This year's Team USA consists of the current reigning champ Simone Biles, as well as Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum, Jade Carey, and McKayla Skinner.

The excitement of the approaching Games — and the return of the 2020 Olympics since they were first postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic — gets us a bit nostalgic for the winners of the past, though. Some of them we still hear about pretty often, but what about all the others?

From members of the iconic 1996 and 2012 U.S. Olympics Women's Gymnastics Teams, all the way back to 1984 when Team USA finally made its mark on the sport, have no fear: We've got the details on all your favorite Olympic gymnasts you don't hear about anymore. From becoming published authors and establishing their own entrepreneurial ventures to embarking on media careers and overcoming serious health challenges, they've been up to quite a lot.

Olympian Mary Lou Retton is a gymnastics icon, broadcaster, actress, and advocate for nutrition

When it comes to Olympic gymnasts, it's hard not to think of Mary Lou Retton, who made many firsts. At the age of 16, this "diminutive dynamo," as The New York Times referred to her in 1984, became the first American woman to win the all-around gold medal at the 1984 Olympic Games, as noted by Retton's official website. In total, she won five medals, more than any other competitor that year, with perfect scores in both the vault and the uneven bars. In 1994, Retton told the Los Angeles Times that she "slept with [her] medal under [her] bed" the night she won, hoping that "it wasn't a dream." 

Later that year, Retton became the first woman to appear on the Wheaties box. After retiring in 1986, Retton penned a column for USA Today and served as an Olympics commentator for NBC and as an Official White House Delegate for the 1992 and 1998 Olympics. In addition to racking up more achievements, she appeared in movies like "Scrooged" and "Naked Gun 33 ⅓," as well as on TV as co-host of "Road to Olympic Gold." Retton has also been seen on "Baywatch," "Guiding Light," and a 2014 Superbowl commercial.

These days, she's a motivational speaker and author who advocates for the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.

Since earning the most medals of any Olympic gymnast, Shannon Miller became an entrepreneur

Shannon Miller's name is almost synonymous with gymnastics, as she's achieved more accolades than any other gymnast — 16 awards, according to Today, including seven Olympic medals. After a successful turn in the 1992 Olympics, she returned in 1996 to help lead the U.S. team – collectively known as the "Magnificent Seven" — to victory.

After retiring, as noted by her official website, Miller studied marketing and entrepreneurship before earning a law degree. In 2010, she launched a business, with the goal of "helping women make their health a priority," as her website describes. For this mother of two, the topic hit close to home: Miller was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011, making her work all the more personal to her. Now cancer-free, she published a memoir to share her story. "You fall nine times, you get up 10," Miller said in an interview with Sports Illustrated, noting that gymnastics is what taught her to keep going when times get tough.

Though she's long retired from gymnastics, Miller is not totally out of the spotlight: According to her website, you're likely to see her on TV commentating or speaking to the media.

Celebrated Olympic gymnast Kerri Strug will be thrust back into the spotlight with a movie biopic

Though Shannon Miller may be the Olympic gymnast with the most accolades, Kerri Strug's gold medal-winning victory at the 1996 Olympic Games is among the sport's most memorable moments. After falling on her first vault, Strug powered through an ankle injury and landed perfectly on the second "before collapsing in pain," according to her website, "helping to secure gold for the American team."

After her historic moment, Strug went to college, where she studied elementary education and became a teacher, as noted by Vogue. Today, she's involved with a number of charities, particularly ones supporting children and genetic diseases. According to Vogue, the former Olympian is also married with two children, which is also evident from her Instagram account, where she posts lots of pics with her kids.

In recent years, apart from occasional speeches and appearances, Strug has remained largely out of the limelight. However, that will soon change with the release of a movie biopic about her winning moment from 1996. As noted by a May 2021 article in Vanity Fair, producer, director, and actress Olivia Wilde is leading the project, which has apparently cast its leading lady. Wow, we can't wait to see it!

Since setting Olympic records, the Magnificent Seven's Amy Chow became a pediatrician

Another Magnificent Seven team member from the 1996 Olympics is Amy Chow, nicknamed "The Trickster," per Vogue, for her tendency to seek out — and master — challenging routines. "I didn't want to go and do easy skills and meet the minimum to get the 10.0 start value," she explained in a 2020 interview with the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee. "For me it was a challenge and ... motivation."

Like her fellow Team USA gymnasts, Chow earned several firsts: She became not only the first Asian-American woman to earn a spot in the U.S. Olympics team in gymnastics, but also the first to win a medal: a silver in the uneven bars. "I definitely heard stories from young girls, especially Asians, and also from their parents, saying, 'You've inspired me so much,'" Chow said of being a role model. Her achievements even led to her competing in the 2000 Olympics — she's one of only two team members to do so.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Chow later pursued other interests — diving and piano. Her next great challenge, however? Studying at Stanford University and becoming a pediatrician, as noted by the Silicon Valley Business Journal. The Olympic gymnast-turned-doctor also now has her hands full as a mother of two.

Olympic gold-winning gymnast Dominique Moceanu published a revealing memoir

One of two Dominiques who competed on the 1996 U.S. Olympics Gymnastics Team, you may remember Dominique Moceanu as the youngest member, who helped the Magnificent Seven win the gold medal. At only 14 years old, she became the youngest person ever featured on the iconic Wheaties cereal box. Though Moceanu continued competing in national and international championships, because of multiple injuries, coaching changes, and family struggles, she never did return to the Olympics. Between the years of 2006 and 2009, the former gymnast instead got married, had two children, and earned a degree in business administration.

In 2012, Moceanu published her revealing autobiography, The New York Times bestseller "Off Balance," in which she shared her story of alleged emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her parents, whom she sought legal emancipation from at the age of 17. The book also brought to light the years of abuse within the U.S. gymnastics system — which she later testified about before the U.S. Senate, alongside fellow gymnasts.

These days, when the best-selling author and motivational speaker isn't running the gymnastics camp and athletic center she started in 2017, she's involved with several charities focusing on children, athletics, and survivors of abuse.

After setting this record, Magnificent Seven member Dominique Dawes pursued Hollywood

Then there's the other Dominique from the 1996 U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team: Dominique Dawes. The three-time Olympic gold medalist — she competed in 1992, 1996, and 2000 — became "the first African American to win an individual medal in Olympic gymnastics," according to her official U.S. Olympics bio.

After retiring from competitive gymnastics and graduating from the University of Maryland in 2002, Dawes found work as an actress, model, and producer — even making her Broadway debut in "Grease." Dawes is also a former president of the Women's Sports Foundation and, as noted by 11 Alive, past co-chair of the "President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition," appointed by then-President Barack Obama.

These days, as noted by IMDb, Dawes is busy raising her four children alongside husband Jeff Thompson and, similar to several of her former Olympic teammates, running the Dominique Dawes Gymnastics Academy that she established for kids. And, with all her accomplishments, what is the former Olympian most proud of? As Dawes shared in an interview with 11 Alive, that would be the "lasting legacy" that she wants to leave to "change people's perception" of the sport and what it offers to the next generation.

Olympic gymnast and Magnificent Seven team captain Amanda Borden continues to lead

Amanda Borden was the glue that helped keep the 1996 U.S. Olympics Gymnastics Team together – as captain of the "Magnificent Seven," she played an instrumental role in leading the team to achieve its record-making gold medal. And, as it turns out, she was the unanimous choice for team captain.

According to a 2019 interview with AZCentral, Borden's fellow team members all voted for her. Looking back, Borden realizes that her "positive attitude and leadership" were her unique strengths that she brought to the team. "Every great team needs that ... but sometimes you don't realize that maybe that's your role," Borden explained. "So, when that moment happened, I knew, wow, that's my role here. I'm going to do that for my team."

The ever-modest Olympian later earned a degree in elementary education from Arizona State University, as noted by AZCentral. She's also been a commentator for various television networks, per her bio on the website for Gold Medal Gymnastics, where she serves as owner and instructor. The program has exponentially grown in its many years of operation, largely due to its leader. As Borden told AZCentral, she's "blessed to be able to do the two things [she] love[s] the most": teaching school and teaching her "favorite sport."

One-time Magnificent Seven Olympic gymnast Jaycie Phelps established her own athletic center

The Magnificent Seven would not be complete without Jaycie Phelps, most recognized for "her skill on uneven bars and vault," according to a 2018 feature for Inside Gymnastics Magazine. After the iconic American gymnastics team's history-making win at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, Phelps attended Arizona State University (per IMDb).

Like several of her former team members, Phelps is helping lead the next generation. As noted by Inside Gymnastics Magazine, Phelps and her husband, Dave Marus, own the Greenfield, Indiana-based Jaycie Phelps Athletic Center. As described by the Center's website, Phelps, now a mom to two daughters, established the facility in 2010 to "give kids in her hometown the chance to achieve their dreams the way she was able to" and to "give back to a sport that has given so much to her." From the sound of it, Phelps has no regrets about her time as an Olympian. "I am glad I had the experience of competing at every level of the sport when I did," she told Inside Gymnastics Magazine. "I love that I can use my experiences to help the next generations with their journey of gymnastics now as a coach."

Since winning Olympic gold in 2004, gymnast Carly Patterson overcame infertility

Let's fast-forward to 2004, when a young gymnast named Carly Patterson won an individual, all-around gold medal in the Athens Olympic Games, according to her official Olympics bio. As noted by Patterson's talent agency bio, this marked the first time this feat had been achieved since Olympic great Mary Lou Retton's memorable win in 1984.

After her epic win, Patterson suffered a debilitating back injury, as per her agency bio. After heeding her doctor's warning, she retired from the sport just two years later. Soon after, she released her co-written memoir "Be Strong" and pursued a music career, which kept her in the spotlight.

After getting married in 2012, Patterson was dealt another devastating blow: the journey through infertility as she and husband Mark Caldwell (via People) tried to start a family. "This body that had achieved a gold medal at the Olympics, one of the toughest things you can ever do," she said, according to her agency bio, "was at this point, failing me and that was difficult." As of this writing, the former Olympian miraculously now has not one, not two, but three children, thanks to fertility treatments. In a February 2021 article for People, she announced the birth of her third child, a boy named Pearson.

Since competing in the 2004 Olympics, Courtney McCool is leading the next generation of gymnasts

Another member of the 2004 silver-medal winning U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team is Courtney McCool. After the Olympics, McCool went on to compete at the University of Georgia, while she pursued a bachelor's degree in child and family development and a master's degree in sports management and policy (via Louisiana State University).

For this former Olympian, the college gymnastics scene is exactly where she wants to be. She started off her gymnastics coaching and choreography career at Texas Women's University and the University of Arkansas, before her next stop at the University of Utah; that's where McCool coached for two seasons alongside her partner at work and at home, Garrett Griffeth. The duo married in 2012 and are parents to two daughters. McCool's latest move, however, is to Louisiana State University, where she and Griffeth will once again team up, as noted by a 2021 interview with The Advocate. "I am excited to pour my heart into this team and the program that D-D has built over the course of four decades," McCool revealed.

Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin is embracing the limelight as a fashion and beauty blogger

Gymnastics was basically in Nastia Liukin's genes. According to her official USA Gymnastics bio, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist was raised by her rhythmic gymnast mother and 1988 Olympic gold medalist father. In the 2008 Olympic Games, Liukin even outperformed her dad, winning five medals, the most of any Olympic gymnast that year — an impressive feat that matched both Mary Lou Retton in 1984 and Shannon Miller in 1992.

In 2011, Liukin filled ESPN in on her post-Olympics life, saying, "I have had so many wonderful opportunities, met many great people and created friendships." A couple of these "opportunities," in fact, were breaking into modeling and acting. In 2009, Liukin appeared on TV in the documentary series "Make It or Break It" and then again in 2010 on "Hellcats" about the "world of competitive college cheerleading" (via IMDb). Then, three years after retiring from competitive gymnastics, she took fourth place on Season 20 of "Dancing with the Stars."

These days, it seems like Liukin is focusing on her love of shopping: She's a fashion, beauty, and lifestyle blogger, with a pretty massive Instagram following. We can't wait to see what she'll do next!

2008 Olympic gymnast Bridget Sloan has established a broadcasting career

In the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Bridget Sloan was the youngest member of the U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team, which took home a team silver medal, as noted by WRUF, the college radio station at the University of Florida. As noted by a 2016 feature in the University of Florida's alumni publication, Sloan went on to become the all-around world champion in 2009. Though she earned a place in the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials, an elbow injury forced her to drop out of the 2012 competition.

Post-Olympics life, Sloan attended the University of Florida on an athletic scholarship and was the star of the school's gymnastics team. After graduating with a degree in telecommunications in 2016, Sloan began a broadcasting career. According to her LinkedIn profile, she's a territory business manager as well as an analyst with ESPN. Impressive!

Since retiring, Fierce Five Olympian McKayla Maroney embarked on an entertainment career

McKayla Maroney may have won a team gold medal and an individual silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics, but shortly after the Games, she became better known for her "not impressed face" — and subsequent meme — after accepting her silver medal (via NBC Sports). Though she said in a 2014 interview that her facial impression only lasted for about "two seconds," she revealed her disappointment about not winning the gold medal to NBC Sports. "I was sad. I was upset. And I was not impressed," she confessed. 

Though she initially planned to compete again in the 2016 Olympics, Maroney wound up retiring beforehand after encountering a number of health issues. She opened up about the challenges she faced in a May 2021 Twitter Q&A. "There's nothing wrong with taking space from the sport. People make comebacks," she wrote. "Healing an injury is extremely important for long term happiness and health." We certainly have to agree with her. 

You'll be able to learn more about Maroney's story in her upcoming book, as revealed in a tweet. But, for now, you can listen to her debut single that she released in 2020. Yep, she's also spreading her wings in the music world. We can't wait to see what she'll do next!

Former Fierce Five Olympic gymnast Jordyn Wieber is a collegiate gymnastics coach

Jordyn Wieber is another member of the 2012 Olympics U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team, also known as the "Fierce Five," who earned the U.S. a gold medal. Though she officially retired from competitive gymnastics in 2015, per the Finding Mastery podcast, she hasn't stopped being recognized for her achievements.

The Michigan native went on to study psychology at UCLA, graduating in 2017. After dabbling in the acting world in the films "Raising the Bar" and "Full Out," per IMDb, as well as a 30 Seconds to Mars music video (we're super jealous she got to meet Jared Leto!), Wieber continued on at UCLA as the gymnastics team manager and then as assistant coach. Though she told the International Olympic Committee that she once never had any desire to coach, she explained that she later changed her mind. "What you get to do as a college coach is so much bigger than just gymnastics," Wieber revealed. "It's really about finding those parallels between gymnastics and life for the student athletes and teaching them things about leadership and taking ownership of the things that they do in their life."

These days, Wieber is the gymnastics head coach at the University of Arkansas. Love it!