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Olympics women’s gymnastics has always been one of my favorite things. I was nine years old when the 1996 US Women’s Olympic Gymnastic Team won the team gold medal in Atlanta. My mom and I stayed up late watching their epic victory on our little 19-inch black-and-white TV that only came out of the closet for special things like the Olympics and the Superbowl. From that moment on, I became a huge fan of all things gymnastics.
Over the next year or so, I got books from the library on gymnastics and the Magnificent Seven and autobiographies and biographies of the gymnasts of the winning team. It was pretty much an obsession…even in my playtime (even though I don’t have a flexible or athletic bone in my body):
Me circa 1997-1998 at a science museum:
In October of 1997, my parents surprised me with tickets to the John Hancock Tour of World Gymnastics Champions, a celebratory post-olympic tour. My mom and I went together. I don’t remember much about the night other than that our seats felt very far away, but it was still so exciting. I even bought a Shannon Miller t-shirt. They were sold out of everything except for extra-larges. So we got it anyway and I wore it as a sleep shirt.
Over the next 15 years, every summer olympics, my mom and I have both watched the women’s gymnastics team finals with hope of gold. This year’s olympics were no exception. I even went out and bought a TV antenna so I could hook up my TV to watch. The night of the team finals, my mom and I were on the phone talking, both getting ready to watch. I had seen the results on accident (darn NBC website and their spoilers)…but she hadn’t. I just told her that she needed to watch. We joked that if they won gold again, we were going to have to see if they were going to have a tour that we could go to. We stayed up late and watched them win gold “together.”
The next day, a local activities page that I follow on Facebook posted a link to the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions. I was shocked…I had no idea that there was already a tour going on! I immediately posted it for my mom and we decided that we would go. We could go in Chicago or Louisville, but decided to do Chicago since Russ was supposed to be in the field throughout the month of October. Within two hours we had purchased our tickets for October 12th, 3 days shy of 15 years from when we attended before (yes I looked up the dates online lol).
I drove up to Chicago last weekend and stayed a few days. Sunday night we drove into the city to attend. Our seats were a lot better than they were in 1997! In fact, we were so close that at one point early on in the evening, I dropped my phone over the railing and one of the performers from the national team handed it back to me!
The entrance of the olympic teams:
Jonathan Horton spotting for a local child performer:
Jordyn Wieber’s floor routine:
John Orozco on parallel bars:
This was the most beautiful routine of the evening…the gold medal team synchronized on balance beam while an artistic gymnast did aerial gymnastics overhead:
Gabrielle Douglas on beam:
This was super neat–two men on one bar!
Gabby Douglas floor routine:
This is how close we were. If I’m not mistaken, that’s Nastia Liukin. Not sure who the girl on the left is.
Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber waiting in the wings…you’ll have to just believe me on this one!
“Jumping through hoops” taken to a whole new level:
Check out how much stuff is going on in this one…it was a neat finale!
It was an amazing night. I’m so glad that we spent the money and took the time to go. It was definitely worth it!