Although seven-time Olympic medal-winning gymnast Shannon Miller has plenty of memories of her experiences representing the United States in both the 1992 and 1996 games, one moment in particular stands out. It happened at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta as Miller and the rest of her team walked into the Georgia Dome the night of the team competition.
“It was on home soil, you had the hometown crowd, and when you walked in, it was just ‘USA! USA!’ and you just felt the love and support of the audience right there,” Miller told SheKnows ahead of her appearance at BlogHer18 Health in New York City. “So just walking in that night of the team competition was incredible — the energy in the air.”
Miller and the rest of the American women’s gymnastics team (Dominique Moceanu, Dominique Dawes, Kerri Strug, Amy Chow, Amanda Borden and Jaycie Phelps) were dubbed the Magnificent Seven and won the first-ever gold medal for the U.S. in the women’s team competition. More than two decades later, she says the victory is still hard to grasp.
“Standing up there with the team, seeing the American flag being raised and hearing our national anthem…I don’t think it sunk in, literally, for years, that we had actually won this medal,” Miller said. “You train, and then all of a sudden you’re standing up there. It’s such a whirlwind. You’re so focused on training for the competition that I think we still pinch ourselves at times, even more than 20 years out.”
On top of her success with the team, Miller also won the gold medal for the balance beam event in the same Olympic Games — another surreal moment for her. She said she had “a bit of a rocky road” between the team competition and the balance beam, making some mistakes during the all-around competition and the vault finals.
“Balance beam was kind of my redemption,” she explained. “So it’s just that moment where everything came together. [It’s] my favorite event, and most of us would agree the scariest event of them all. So when I felt my feet hit the floor, it was this incredible moment. I can still feel how it felt to have my feet hit the floor and realize I was standing up.”
Even though more than 20 years have passed, Miller said both her 1992 and 1996 teams still keep in touch.
“We’re spread all across the U.S.,” she explained. “One of my teammates [from the 1996 Olympics] had twins literally two days ago… We’re like everyone else — texting and social media and everything else. It’s really been fun as we’ve grown up to stay in touch as just people.”