U.S. OLYMPIC TEAM MEDIA SUMMIT: Quotes from Women's Gymnastics Press Conference Monday, April 14

April 15, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
Press Conference Quotes Monday, April 14 10:20 - 11:20 am Women's Gymnastics Participants: Shawn Johnson (SJ) Nastia Liukin (NL) Chellsie Memmel (CM) Samantha Peszek (SP) Alicia Sacramone (AS) Bridget Sloan (BS) Shayla Worley (SW) Ivana Hong (IH) Quotes: Q: Do you feel that it is an advantage to be the team to beat' SJ: We do feel more confident and excited to defend our title. CM: It makes us want to work harder to maintain and head for first place. SW: It's a confidence builder knowing we've done it before and we just need to go out and do it again_ It's hard to get on top and ever harder to stay there. AS: We're just working twice as hard. IH: I think it's a good spot to be in and gives us a confidence boost. Q: How do you keep distractions away' SJ: It's definitely hard to control distractions but it comes with the sport. Women's gymnastics gets a lot of attention but that's also why we love it. People recognize our hard work. NL: The Olympics are huge and it's what we work for our entire life. I know that my training time is the most important part. I'm not allowed to miss a day of training. I have help coordinating it all. CM: It's great that we get a lot of attention. It helps with getting the U.S. to know us. AS: We have a really strong support system around us. They know that our training is our number one priority. It's definitely a balance of both. SW: All the media is amazing but we still have to remember how we got here and we have to keep training. IH: When we're in the gym we're in the gym_Media is a great thing to get the country to support us that much more. Q: What extent have you paid attention to the political issues' AS: Training is our main focus but we've heard about everything_ The Olympic Games is a great time for everyone to come together. We can't fix the problems personally so we try not to deal with them right now. SJ: We're athletes and we've worked 16+ years to get here. Nothing is going to change how we feel about the Olympics. Q: How much did your success at last years World Championships give you confidence' SJ: Coming out of Worlds was definitely a highlight of my career. It really helped me get focused on my real dream and goal. I've been working really hard to raise the bar even more. I really think Beijing will be the best competition ever for the team. Q: Can you talk about the added pressure going head-to-head with China being the home team' SJ: China is our biggest competition and knowing we are going to their home turf gives us a little bit of pressure. We are going to be working harder than ever. During the PanAm Games in Brazil we had a crowd that was against us but we worked really hard and got their recognition and cheers at the end. NL: Going into Beijing we're all really excited. Hopefully it will be a great competition. When you are in your own country it can be an advantage or disadvantage because of the amount of pressure. When we're over there we're not really looking at them because we're focusing on our own routines. If we do that there's a pretty good chance we'll come out on top. AS: We love competition. It's what we thrive off of. As long has we have each other's support we'll be just fine. Q: Who do think is the most competitive rival on the Chinese team' NL: Individually we're not looking to point out any names. We're really focused on ourselves. Roundtable Quotes: N. Liukin: -"I don't participate in gymnastics for the sponsorships or money. I do it because I love it and I want to achieve my personal goals." -"If you enjoy what you do, that is what's most important."S. Johnson: -"I want to be my own person_I want to make history just being me." -"It is amazing to see how the sport has changed throughout the years and exceeded so many limits."A. Sacramone: -"I tried every sport and I couldn't find what I was looking for. It was not until I watched the Olympics that I realized that was what I wanted to do..."
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