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Shannon Miller competes for the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. She won the silver medal in the individual all-around and helped the United States to bronze as a team.
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Photo by Renee Parenteau
Miller, pictured now at 39, poses with the seven Olympic medals she earned during her gymnastics career. Regarded as one of the best-ever U.S. gymnasts, Miller is helping to promote the 2016 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team Trials June 23-26 at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis.
Shannon Miller knows the thrill of victory. She experienced it many times at the highest level in the 1990s. Miller, 39, is the most decorated gymnast in U.S. history.
You can count ’em. Miller has accumulated 22 gold, silver or bronze medals, including 11 golden ones. She gathered seven in Olympic competition and two of them were gold. So Miller is the best of the best in this country.
The one-time Edmond, Okla., resident hasn’t competed in 16 years, but she still enjoys gymnastics enough to keep both feet in it. She serves as a national commentator and will be in St. Louis for the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team Trials.
They’re set for June 23-26 at the 8-year-old, 10,600-seat Chaifetz Arena on the Saint Louis University campus and Miller can’t wait for them to unfold. The Olympic Gymnastics Team Trials also played out four years ago at SLU.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity for a lot of outstanding athletes,” Miller said. “And the U.S. Olympic men’s team will be announced on June 25.”
She added, “On the women’s side, you will see great national competition. It’s a critical part of the selection process. The athletes are excited about it because it gets the show on the road.”
All of the gymnasts are aiming for spots in the 2016 Summer Olympics at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Games run Aug. 5-21.
“The road to Rio goes through St. Louis,” Miller quipped.
There’s competition in Senior Women, Junior Men and Men’s Olympic Trials covering the four-day action. Opening-round competition starts at 1 p.m. on Thursday, June 23, and extends through 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 26. The Men’s Olympic Trials, perhaps the main attraction, go at 7 p.m. on June 23 and at 7 p.m. on June 25.
All-session tickets cost from $150 to $495 and single-session ones are also available. For more information, call Ticketmaster.com at (800) 745-3000, visit stlouis2016.com or the Chaifetz Arena Box Office.
How good is the competition? Perhaps it’s as good as ever, Miller indicated.
“It’s always hard to compare the best gymnasts on the men’s side and women’s side through the years,” she said. “But you have the best ones trying to make the Olympic team. That’s the goal. If they do that, everything else is icing on the cake.”
No doubt, all eyes will be on Simone Biles, the three-time defending all-around national champion. She might be the Shannon Miller of 2016.
“There are some household names in the competition and she (Biles) is so far ahead of the pack,” Miller said. “She won the last three world championships.
“She’s the real deal.”
Miller was just like that in the 1990s. She emerged as the 1993 and 1994 World All-Around champion. In addition, Miller claimed the gold medal in the balance beam at the 1996 Olympics and was a member of the gold-medal winning Magnificent Seven team at the Atlanta Olympics. She also was the All-Around champ in the 1995 Pan Am Games.
All figured, she captured 16 World Championships and Olympic medals from 1991-1996. She’s the 10th most medal-winning gymnast of all time and the only woman — in any sport — to be twice (individual and team) inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. She last competed at that level in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
It has been a long affair and loving ride for her since she began participating competitively at age 9. By age 23, she retired.
“There were some withdrawal symptoms, especially when you retire younger,” Miller said. “I had a process to find my next passions and being a commentator on gymnastics is a great opportunity for me. I get to stay involved in gymnastics.”
She managed her way through the rough spots, including battling ovarian cancer in 2011. Through chemotherapy treatment, Miller got a clean bill of health.
Two years later, she had a child and along the way, she unveiled the Shannon Foundation, dedicated to fighting childhood obesity. She’s president of the Shannon Miller Lifestyle: Health and Fitness for Women. Her autobiography, “It’s Not About Perfect: Competing for My Country and Fighting for My Life,” was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2015.
“My career now is involved more about women’s health and fitness,” Miller said. “It’s a natural extension of sports for me.”
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