Best All-Time American Gymnast
Who is the best all-time American gymnast?
Over the course of gymnastics history there have been a number of fantastic gymnasts that have accomplished a long list of amazing feats. Nadia Comaneci was probably the best gymnast ever. But, if you focus just on American gymnastics, the choice comes down to Mary Lou Retton or Shannon Miller.
However, Retton didn't really do much after that great '84 Olympics. So, in comparing her with Shannon Miller, we have to rank Miller #1.
Shannon Miller, when all has been said and done, is the most decorated gymnast, whether male or female, in the history of United States gymnastics.
After spending her childhood in her hometown of Edmond, Oklahoma, Miller eventually traveled to Moscow, Russia with her family to attend a gymnastics camp, where she met her eventual coach throughout her career in Steve Nunno.
When Shannon returned home and began training under Nunno, her gymnastics career really took off. She began competing at a much higher level, and thoughts of major national and international competition became a realistic possibility.
In 1989, while only 12 years old, she finished 3rd at the Olympic Festival. She was often overshadowed early in her career by fellow American gymnast Kim Zmeskal, a physically talented gymnast whose career never really panned out in the way it was thought it would. However, it did not take long at all before Miller began making a name for herself, and soon, it was clear that Miller was in a class all of her own.
Her first major Championships success occurred at the 1991 World Championships in Indianapolis, where she won the silver medal in the uneven bars, and also shared in the team overall silver medal.
Following the 1992 Olympic Games, Miller went on to the true prime of her gymnastics career. In 1993, at the World Championships in Birmingham, Miller went on to taste her first gold medals, receiving the gold in the uneven bars as well as in floor exercise, and also won the coveted all-around gold medal. From there, she went on to win 2 more gold medals at the 1994 World Championships at Brisbane, in the All-around as well as in the balance beam.
And then, in 1996, came the apex of Shannon Miller's storied career. It was during the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996 that US Women's Gymnastics (and probably US Gymnastics as a whole) had its finest hour. And Shannon Miller was at the center of it.
The American women's gymnastics team went into the Atlanta Games as a big underdog to even medal, never mind win the gold medal. However, the team (known affectionately as the "Magnificent Seven") had different ideas.
Shannon Miller took the Gold Medal in the balance beam (first time an American gymnast had ever won on Olympic Gold in the Balance Beam). The U.S. team went on to shock the world and win an Olympics Team Gold Medal for the United States -- the first (and only) time for an American women's gymnastics team. You can read lots more about this great team at Best All-Time American Gymnastics Team.
Overall, it seems clear that Shannon Miller was the best American gymnast in history.
Read about other great American olympic athletes at Best All-Time Olympic Track and Field Star and Best All-Time Olympic Swimmer.
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