Olympian Carly Patterson poses for photos with now-all-around champion Simone Biles and now-all-around silver medalist Aly Raisman.
Carly Patterson helped lead a resurgence of success for Team USA in gymnastics when she won gold in the all-around at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, the first U.S. woman to do so in 20 years. She will serve as TeamUSA.org’s written correspondent during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, providing her take on the women’s gymnastics competition.
What an exciting Olympic Games it continues to be for our U.S. women’s gymnastics team!
Simone and Aly finished 1 and 2 in the all-around. Aly Raisman won the silver medal and has achieved what fueled her for the last four years, which was winning that all-around medal she knew she was capable of. So happy for her! Simone Biles joins the small club of U.S. Olympic all-around champions that include Mary Lou Retton, myself, Nastia Liukin and Gabby Douglas. Maybe the readers could come up with a fun name for us since we have a five-member team now?! ;)
First off, let me say welcome to the club, Simone. We are happy to have you! It’s crazy to think the U.S. has won the all-around since the 2004 Olympics! Say whaaat?! Speaking of 2004, I still remember most everything about my Olympics and that incredible night. I remember feeling so excited, confident and ready to show America who I was and what I was made of.
There was only one small hiccup before even getting to the arena that night; our bus broke down on the Athens, Greece, highway – whoops! Luckily we got a new bus and made it just in time! My major competition was the Russian, Svetlana Khorkina. It was her third Olympics and she wanted that gold medal just as bad as I did. We watched each other’s routines very closely throughout the whole night. We started on vault and I landed outside the white lines and got several tenths deduction from that. I wasn’t able to score what I wanted or start the night how I was hoping. I knew my next three routines had to be the best routines I had ever done to have a chance at the gold. Svetlana and I both had great bar sets and moved to beam.
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I knew beam is where I could have a little advantage, and I hit my best routine and even stuck my dismount, “The Patterson.” That gave me confidence going into floor. I was last to go and I had calculated the exact score I needed to win the gold. Svetlana and I were neck and neck so it definitely made for a dramatic competition and ending! My coach, Yevgeny, told me to have fun with it and stay in bounds and that’s exactly what I did. Running off the floor, I thought I had done enough, but you never know. My coach and I saw my score and my name move to #1 and we couldn’t believe it. That special moment is something he and I will share and remember forever.
The sport has continued to evolve so much in the last 12 years, and Simone really thrives in what the sport requires. Simone and I were similar gymnasts in the way that we were both the powerful and dynamic style versus the graceful, dancer style.
Simone’s vault was once again sky high, and even with a hop on the landing no one can come close to executing their vault like her. I’ve said this time and time again, she is in a league of her own and her biggest competition is really herself. During the competition, she didn’t have to worry about anyone being on her heels. As long as she executed her routines, she was going to be the all-around champion. And she went out there and did exactly that!
Simone is in for a wild ride the next few years! I remember the weeks, months and years following being some of the most rewarding times! Over the next few weeks, her and the rest of the team will be making the talk-show rounds and everyone is going to want a piece of them. Then comes two months on the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions where thousands of people will be dying to see their gymnastics heroes. Before the craziness has time to die down she will already be getting the inevitable question, “Will you be coming back in four years in Tokyo?”. No matter what she decides, she is going to be a great champion and ambassador for the sport of gymnastics.
- Carly Patterson