Women’s History Month Interview Series: Q&A with US Olympian Alicia Sacramone
Alicia Sacramone was a member of the Silver Medal winning US Olympic team in 2008 and has won nine career World Championships medals, including three Golds, four Silvers and two Bronzes, the highest career tally in US history. Alicia briefly retired from elite competition following the 2008 Olympics. On August 6, 2009, she announced her return to training. In October 2010, Alicia was chosen to be a member of the USA World Championship Team. She came home not only with the Silver medal in the team competition around her neck, but also with the World Championship Gold medal in vault. This further solidified Alicia comeback and dominance in the sport.
Alicia Sacramone became Alicia Quinn this past weekend as she married NFL free agent quarterback Brady Quinn. Alicia was generous enough to take the time to talk with us. We at DoubleGSports.com would like to thank and congratulate Alicia…
1. Growing up, was there a female athlete who greatly influenced you?
When I was a kid I really looked up to the 1996 women’s gymnastics team, they were the first US team to ever win a team gold medal! There success made me want to become an Olympian.
2. What drew you to the sport of gymnastics, and what ultimately made you commit to the sport?
Growing up I tried all types of different sports: soccer, tennis, swimming, ice skating and none of them ever kept my interest for more than a few weeks. My mom put me in gymnastics as a last stitch effort to try and drain me of my never ending energy supply, she succeeded. From the first day I walked into the gym it was like love at first sight, gymnastics challenged me physically and mentally which always kept me coming back for more.
3. For an elite gymnast, what is more important: mental toughness or physical strength?
That is a great question, these two aspects of the sport are both very important, but in my opinion mental toughness beats out physical strength. You can always work to become stronger but if you mentally can’t handle the pressure all of the physical strength in the world won’t help you compete at the elite level.
4. To you, what is the beauty of gymnastics?
The combination of grace and strength is what makes gymnastics so beautiful in my mind. You have feminine aspects to the sport with dance and presentation, all the while having the power to perform insanely difficult skills with all eyes on you.
5. In your opinion, what separates average athletes from great athletes?
Work ethic and personal drive is what separates average athletes and great ones. To achieve greatness you have to make sacrifices, be dedicated to your goals and push yourself. Nothing in life is given to you if you want to be the best you need to work your butt off for it.
6. As a young gymnast, was there a coach, teammate, performance or moment that convinced you becoming an Olympian was an attainable goal?
When I started gymnastics my intention had nothing to do with becoming an Olympian, I just loved the sport so much and it brought me great joy. My coaches Mihai and Sylvia Brestyan pulled my parents aside when I was 12 and told them they believed I had a chance to really make something of myself in the gymnastics world. It was at that time where I started envisioning my future in gymnastics and I decided that one day I would be representing the United States at an Olympic Games.
7. How would you describe your experience as a United States Olympian?
My experience as an United States Olympian was very loaded, but amazing. I feel so blessed to have been a part of something so patriotic and honorable. I didn’t have my best competition in Beijing which was disappointing but I still brought home a silver medal and many great memories.
8. How do you stay involved in the sport now that you are a retired competitor?
Now that I’m no longer competing, I coach part time down in Florida where my husband and I live, and I also work for USA Gymnastics in our TOP’s program which helps develop and groom our next crop of future Olympians.
9. What would you say is the most common misconception the public has regarding the sport of gymnastics?
The biggest misconception the public has about gymnastics is that people believe all gymnasts do “the rings” and “that ribbon dance thing”. There are many different disciplines of gymnastics: Artistic (men’s and women’s ), rhythmic (the ribbon) trampoline and tumbling, group and aerobic. All disciplines are unique and difficult in their own way.
10. Is there a piece of advice or encouragement you received growing up that you think is important to pass along to young gymnasts?
My best advice I can pass on to young gymnasts is from my parents and they always told me hard work always pays off and that everything happens for a reason.
11. If you were to host a dinner, what three women in sports (past or present) would you invite, and why?
I’m going to stick with the gymnastics trend on this one, if I were to host a dinner the three women I would invite would be Nadia Comaneci, Mary Lou Retton and Svetlana Boginskaya. I chose these women because they are some of the most decorated and accomplished gymnasts in history, not only are they amazing athletes they are great people as well. Nadia, Mary Lou and Svetlana are great role models for women and girls everywhere.
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