With the Tokyo Olympic games on the horizon, gymnastics fans and professionals alike are looking forward to what the U.S. gymnastics team might achieve.
In 2016, Simone Biles was the most decorated female athlete in Rio, winning four gold medals and a gold. Biles will return to the 2021 games, alongside other standouts like Jordan Chiles, Amari Drayton and Olivia Greaves. But what about the gymnasts who came before? Let’s take a look at some of the USA’s most decorated — and treasured — gymnastic stars, and find out what life is like for them now.
Gabby Douglas – Then
A member of the “Fierce Five” team that competed at the 2012 Olympics in London, Gabby Douglas was the first African American gymnast to win all-around gold at the Olympics. She was the only member of the team to compete in all four events in the team all-around competition. Douglas also won gold medals for the U.S. in the team competitions at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.
Gabby Douglas – Now
In 2017, Douglas also came out as a survivor of Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse. Although she stopped training after the Rio games, she hasn’t officially announced her retirement. But she’s been keeping busy — launching a Barbie doll, publishing an autobiography and speaking at various events.
Shawn Johnson East – Then
It’s a surprise to many people that Shawn Johnson East took part in only one Olympic games (Beijing in 2008) and won only one gold medal (she won silver in all-around and floor). One of the most popular gymnasts in history, she won season eight of “Dancing With the Stars” in 2009, when she was only 17 (and the show’s youngest competitor). She then started training for the 2012 Summer Olympics, but in June of that year she announced her retirement from the sport, due to problems with an ongoing knee injury.
Shawn Johnson East – Now
These days, Johnson East has made a career out of social media, vlogging about her life with husband Andrew East on YouTube. “We’re so happy to have you join us on our journey. We promise to bring you with us on all of our crazy adventures,” the couple wrote on the video-sharing platform. They’re parents to an 18-month-old daughter, Drew, and shared the news of Johnson East’s second pregnancy in January.
Shannon Miller – Then
The USA’s most decorated Olympic gymnast is Shannon Miller, who has seven medals and was the leader of the U.S. team (known as the “Magnificent Seven”) that won Olympic gold in 1996 in Atlanta. Miller took five medals home from Barcelona in ’92, was the all-around champion at Worlds in ’93 and ’94, won the 1995 Pan Am Games all-around gold medal, and won two more Olympic gold medals in Atlanta in 1996, in team and balance beam.
Shannon Miller – Now
After retiring from the sport, Miller went to college and graduated with a law degree, but never worked as a lawyer. Instead, she worked in broadcasting and gave gymnastics clinics. At age 33, mom-of-one Miller was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which was detected early. Today, she has celebrated nine years of being free from cancer. She now works as a motivational speaker, giving talks on leadership resilience, teamwork and cancer survivorship. As president of the Shannon Miller Foundation, which works to fight childhood obesity, and through her company, Shannon Miller Lifestyle, she also works with several organizations to promote exercise and healthy habits, including Active Schools and Food Allergy Research and Education, or FARE.
Dominique Dawes – Then
Dominique Dawes, who is known in the gymnastic community as “Awesome Dawesome,” was the first African American to win an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics. She was also part of the “Magnificent Seven” U.S. team that won Olympic gold in 1996. Dawes was the only gymnast to see her scores in all eight events count toward the final score.
Dominque Dawes – Now
Dawes runs her own gymnastic academy, which she says she created to inspire today’s generation of gymnasts “in a safe, caring and uplifting environment.” She has also worked as a motivational speaker, appeared on Broadway, and was co-chair for President Obama’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition in 2010. Dawes is a mom of four, including a set of twins, who she shares with husband Jeff Thompson, a teacher.
— Dominique Dawes (@dominiquedawes) February 10, 2017
Carly Patterson – Then
Carly Patterson won gold in the all-around in the 2004 Olympics, though her win was overshadowed by her struggles in the team competition, where the Americans failed to defend their gold medal. After the games, doctors diagnosed Patterson with several bulging discs in her back, and she was advised to retire from the sport if she wanted to avoid serious mobility problems.
Carly Patterson – Now
After retiring from gymnastics, Patterson pursued her musical ambitions, and in 2008 she signed a recording contract with MusicMind Records. Her album, “Back to the Beginning,” was released in 2009. In 2012, Patterson married Mark Caldwell, a strategic consultant, and they have three kids together — the youngest was born in February 2021.
First soccer game for our buddy and it was the cutest/funniest thing ever⚽️ pic.twitter.com/yQrSw8uLTU
— Carly Patterson (@CarlyPatterson) March 7, 2021
Peter Vidmar – Then
When Peter Vidmar was 18, he qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team that boycotted the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games. Thereafter, he had a strong college gymnastics career at UCLA, winning the NCAA all-around championship as a senior. At the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Vidmar helped the U.S. team win gold in the all-around competition and scored a perfect 10 to win gold in the pommel horse.
Peter Vidmar – Now
After retiring from competitive gymnastics, Vidmar served as chairman of the U.S. Gymnastics Board of Directors from 2008 to 2015. His next step was to serve as mission president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Australia. He has five grown children with his wife, Donna, whom he met at UCLA.
Mary Lou Retton – Then
After her historic performances at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Mary Lou Retton became an international superstar. She was the first American to win an individual Olympic gold medal in her sport, achieving no less than perfect 10s in the two events, vault and floor. In 1985, Retton won the American Cup in Indianapolis and became the first gymnast to be inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.
Mary Lou Retton – Now
Retton retired in 1986, at age 18. She went on to become a television commentator and motivational speaker, and took part in season 27 of “Dancing With the Stars” in 2018, going on to finish in 9th place. Retton has four daughters (one of whom, McKenna Kelley, is also a gymnast) with her ex-husband Shannon Kelley, a real estate developer.
Aly Raisman – Then
One of the most influential gymnasts in Olympic history, Aly Raisman was captain of the “Fierce Five” team that represented the U.S. at the 2012 Olympics in London. Raisman and Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber won team gold for the first time in almost a decade. Raisman also won gold in the individual floor exercise. The year after the London Olympics, Raisman competed on “Dancing with the Stars.” She made the finals, finishing in fourth place. In 2016, it was back to the Olympics for Raisman, this time in Rio de Janeiro.
Aly Raisman – Now
In 2017, Raisman was one of many gymnasts to accuse Larry Nassar, the team doctor for USA Gymnastics, of sexual abuse. The following year, Nassar was sentenced to spend up to 175 years in prison on sexual assault charges, followed by a further 125 years in prison for more sexual assault charges. In January 2020, Raisman confirmed her retirement from gymnastics in a lengthy, emotional Instagram post addressed to her younger self.
Bart Conner – Then
The only American male gymnast to win gold medals at every level of national and international competition, Bart Conner was part of three Olympic teams: in 1976, 1980 and 1984. At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, he made a dramatic comeback from his second torn biceps injury to win two gold medals, one as a member of the U.S. team. A score of perfect 10 on the parallel bars gave Conner his second gold.
Bart Conner – Now
Conner married Romanian Olympic champion Nadia Comaneci in 1996. They welcomed a son, Dylan Paul Conner, in 2006. Today, the couple is involved in several international charities, including the executive board of Special Olympics International, as well as several key sports entities in Oklahoma City to encourage children to take part in sports and fitness activities. They also work as motivational speakers, sharing their personal stories of becoming Olympic champions.
Nastia Liukin – Then
Nastia Liukin, the daughter of Olympic champion Valeri Liukin and rhythmic gymnastics world champion Anna Liukin (nee Kotchneva), was a child prodigy in U.S. gymnastics. Although she was too young to compete at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, her scores at the 2004 U.S. Championships would have secured her third place in the senior competition. Liukin was part of the 2008 U.S. gymnastics team that missed out on gold in Beijing, where she took home five medals, including the individual all-around gold, the silver medal on the balance beam and the bronze on the floor exercise.
Nastia Liukin – Now
Liukin retired from gymnastics at age 22 and turned her focus to entrepreneurship. She founded a tech platform to help female athletes connect with mentors, sports psychologists, nutritionists and college recruiters. She’s also become a leading influencer, collaborating with fashion, well-being and lifestyle brands. In 2019, she launched her own beauty product with Volition Beauty at Sephora.
Jamie Dantzscher – Then
In the early 2000s, Jamie Dantzscher was one of the biggest names in gymnastics. She led the U.S. women’s team to fourth place at the 2000 Sydney Olympics; 10 years later they were awarded the bronze medal following the revelation that the third-place Chinese team had lied about the ages of many of its competitors. Dantzscher went on to compete at UCLA and won gold in seven NCAA championships.
Jamie Dantzscher – Now
Dantzscher was one of the first women to go on record about Larry Nassar’s abuse, plus the apparent lengths USA Gymnastics bosses went to cover it up. She also appeared on the Netflix documentary “Athlete A,” which shone a light on the abuse. Dantzscher subsequently launched a YouTube channel, “From Inside Out.”
Alicia Sacramone – Then
Alicia Sacramone started competing when she was 11 and joined Team USA at age 12. In 2008, she competed at the Beijing Olympics, winning the silver medal. She went from strength to strength, winning 10 world championship gymnastics medals and becoming the second most decorated American gymnast of all time.
Alicia Sacramone – Now
In 2013, Sacramone retired from the sport after she wasn’t selected to be part of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team. She married former St. Louis Rams Quarterback Brady Quinn the following year, and they welcomed a baby girl in 2016. Two more daughters followed in 2018 and 2020.
— Alicia Quinn (@ASAQ_3) March 6, 2020
McKayla Maroney – Then
McKayla Maroney captured the world’s attention during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She helped the U.S. team take home the gold medal, and won silver for her individual performance on the vault. The “not impressed” look on her face when her second place was announced was captured on camera, and became as much of a talking point as her athletic ability.
McKayla Maroney – Now
Maroney has stayed in the spotlight, appearing in a Thirty Seconds to Mars video and playing a recurring role on the TV show “Hart of Dixie.” In 2017, she came forward as a survivor of Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse. In 2020, Maroney released her debut single “Wake Up Call” on digital platforms.
New week! Feeling happy and blessed.
— mckayla (@McKaylaMaroney) May 3, 2021
Jordyn Wieber – Then
Jordyn Wieber was 17 when she was part of the “Fierce Five” team representing the U.S. at the 2012 London Olympics. At the time, she was the reigning world champion in the all-around. She finished fourth in the all-around during the qualification round, but wasn’t able to compete in the final because her teammates Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas finished higher. After the games, Wieber studied psychology at UCLA.
Jordyn Wieber – Now
The first of “The Fierce Five” to retire from competitive gymnastics, Wieber also came forward as a survivor of Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse. She testified about Nassar and the USA Gymnastics’ negligence in front of the Senate in 2018. The following year, Wieber was named head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks’ gymnastics team.
Simone Biles – Then
Simone Biles entered the gymnastics world at age 6 and is now one of the sport’s superstars. After spending her early years in foster care, she was adopted by her grandparents, who encouraged her passion for gymnastics. She earned a place on the U.S. team in 2013, and became the senior women’s all-around champion in the P&G Gymnastics Championships later that year. In 2016, she took home five medals from the Rio Olympics, four of which were gold.
Simone Biles – Now
Biles will return to the mat for the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, which was postponed from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On “The Tonight Show” in April, Biles told host Jimmy Fallon that her training schedule for the games was “down and dirty.” She also offered some advice: “Just dream big, and dream bigger after that because you never know where your dream will take you.”