Last summer, I was the captain of the gold medal-winning U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team at the 2012 Summer Olympic and won two individual medals; however, what most people don’t see is that I went through one of the hardest years of my life in 2012 finishing my decade-long goal of preparing for Olympic Trials and ultimately the Olympic Games. Between balancing training, traveling and competitions with my schoolwork, family and friends, I felt a lot of pressure and stress, but looking back on everything, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I was so proud when I graduated from high school, but I didn’t have much time to enjoy it as I immediately turned all of my attention towards Olympic Trials. Since I was training so hard to make the team, my days were packed with workouts, rest, recovery and it left me with little time to do much else.
The one thing I do always try to make time for is to talk with my sisters and brother. Being the oldest sibling in my family, I understand the importance of setting a positive example and being there for them. They watch my every move, whether it be in the classroom, the gym, or on Dancing with the Stars!
I want to ask other older siblings to join me in standing up to support your younger sisters and brothers. Summer time means a lot of freedom from typical school responsibilities and is a time when poor decisions can be made. Encourage your brother or sister to make smart decisions, stay active, and say NO to underage drinking. Take them over to my superstar page and together watch video messages from me!
Want to know more, read on for my exclusive Q&A:
Q – Looking back, is there anything you wish you could tell your middle school self?
A – I just think it’s important for young kids to remember to try to always surround themselves with people who care about you as a person and are always going to support you! If people can’t respect you for making your own decisions, then they are not your real friends anyways!
Q – What quality do you find most admirable in your friends?
A – I think the fact that they are all so kind, thoughtful and motivated to make themselves better people. When I made the difficult decision to finish senior year online instead of at Needham High School with all of my best friends, everyone was so supportive because they knew it was the best decision for my gymnastics career and that really meant a lot to me.
Q – We’re all excited for the finale of Dancing with the Stars, give us the scoop, how’s the training going this week and remind us how to vote for you on Monday!
A – Dancing With the Stars has been an incredible experience for me. Before the show, people only knew me as a highly focused Olympic gymnast, but the show has really allowed me to let my true personality come out. I have been having a lot of fun, but it is a lot of hard work every week! We rehearse 7-10 hours a day, and it is exhausting! Similar to gymnastics, dancing is physically demanding, and if I didn’t make healthy decisions along the way, I would have had a much tougher road to the finals. People can vote on Monday by calling 1-800-868-3408 after the show or by texting “vote” to 3408! I appreciate the support!