By JESSICA HOPP
Reliving their dreams and inspiring the dreams
of others, gymnastic golden girls Kerri Strug and Dominique Moceanu
arrived in Nashville on Thursday to visit local gymnastics clubs.
There, they talked about their Olympic experiences
and the chances of this year's U.S. squad, which will compete in
the National Championships at the Gaylord Entertainment Center on
As members of the 1996 gold medal winning U.S.
gymnastics team these two were more than qualified to speak on the
''I have learned a lot about myself as I got older
and older and I realized, 'Wow, it's been eight years, and I can
still have that impact on kids,''' said the 22-year-old Moceanu,
who won her first senior national competition
in Nashville in 1994 and in 1996, at the age of 14, became the young-est
U.S. gymnast to win an Olympic gold medal. ''I need to get a good
message out there. Help them stay inspired. If I can keep them inspired
that's an amazing accomplishment in itself. It's hard to keep them
inspired these days. It's hard to keep kids focused on goals and
It was focus which earned these athletes their
gold medals. Few can forget Strug's final vault on an injured ankle
that helped clinch the United State's first ever team Olympic gold.
It is something Strug will always remember, not necessarily for
its immediate reward but for the meaning behind the medal.
''For me I think my whole gymnastics career I was
kind of known as the bridesmaid,'' said Strug, now 26, who in addition
to her medal in Atlanta in 1996 was also a member of the 1992 bronze
''I was kind of always known as not being able
to handle the pressure. Every opportunity I had to shine and win
a certain competition I could never handle it. So to have this vault,
this culmination of my entire career, it signified a lot more to
me personally than the average American realizes, because it was
finally all pressure was on me and I proved I could handle it.''
Fans can see both gymnasts in person today at the
Southern Women's Show running through tomorrow in the Nashville
Convention Center. Strug and Moceanu will appear on the Fashion
Stage at 1 p.m.
Jessica Hopp covers gymnastics
for the Tennessean. She can be reached at 259-8253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Copyright 2004 The
A Gannett Co. Inc. newspaper