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148: Shannon Miller

Shannon Miller interview It's Not About Perfect book red leotard 1992 ring leap smiling
Shannon Miller in 1991 at her first World Championships. © Mike Proebsting




This Week's Interview

The GymCastic Book Club had the most gym nerd-tastic celebration of all time this week when Shannon Miller, thé Shannon Miller, joined us to talk about her new memoire, “It’s Not About Perfect: Competing for My Country and Fighting for My Life.”  She has more combined Olympic and World medals than any American gymnast male or female. She won the World Championship all-around two times in a row. She had multiple eponymous skills in the Code of Points. She was diagnosed with one of the deadliest forms of cancer and it ran away from her like a Level 5 who hears, “It’s time for conditioning!”  Her male coach, Steve Nunno, acted like the love child of Bela Karolyi and Donald Trump, yet he complimented her perfectly.  She did two back extension rolls in a row on beam just because the crowd loved it! She did her full difficutly on the post-Olympic tours because she wanted to give the fans what they paid for.  She is so bad ass, that when a reporter said Olga, Nadia, Mary Lou…why isn’t it just Shannon? She replied, “Who says it’s not?” SHE IS SHANNON FREAKING MILLER, the greatest American gymnast of all time. Shannon answered your book club questions and we discussed:

  • Her infamous wrists and unique salute. Yes, she talks about her wrists! We died!
  • The time she thought she was over scored.
  • If there’s anything she would do differently in order to prepare herself for a social and romantic life after gymnastics; to avoid her troubled first marriage; and what will she tell her son and daughter about finding love?
  • She competed so much more than elites do today, does she wish she competed less?
  • The strong female role models in her life: her mother and Peggy Liddick.
  • The very first training camps at the Ranch when Bela was National Team Coordinator.
  • Training as an adult and how her coaches helped her stay in the sport as she grew older.
  • Skills she worked on that the world never got to see.
  • Does she plan on running for FIG President?
  • Should we bring back compulsories and the 10? Which team would she compete for if she had done gymnastics in college?
  • When can we expect to see her back in the commentator’s chair.
  • What women should do to screen for ovarian cancer.
  • Most importantly, if Alexi Nemov is as hot in person as he is on TV.

Uncle Tim and Jessica give their recap of the book including:

  • What coaches, parents and gymnasts can learn from this book.
  • As a hardcore gym nerd, what was most satisfying answer to finally read ?
  • What part of the book made us go hmmm.
  • What we wish she had talked about more.
  • The top tips and tricks we learned from Shannon for life, gymnastics and cancer preventing pelvic exams. (1:06:32 time stamp)
  • Shannon Miller’s Tips & Tricks According to Jessica:
    • Always use two pair of grips and switch off every few days. Have two pair ready at all times during meets.
    • Turn your feet in on beam especially if you were born with them that way.
    • Have a signature look!
    • Glue bedazzles to your scrunchie.
    • Use your parents as mediators for compromise between coach and athlete.
    • Coaches, plan time in your schedule for parent meetings, just like warmups and conditioning.
    • Go on vacation, condition a little bit while you relax on vacation.
    • Every gymnastics coach agrees, no gymnast should ever ski!
    • Do at least 20 minutes of cardio every day.
    • Don’t compensate for one injury, you’ll cause another.
    • Having the mindset of a perfectionist comes at a price. You don’t have to pay the price, it’s a choice.
    • Go sightseeing when you travel. Even if it’s only for an hour. Make trips special.
    • If all of your athletes quit at age 15, it’s probably not them, it’s you.
    • Teenagers and women cannot be coached physically or mentally the way children are trained. Adapt coaching to the age of your athlete.
    • If you have knobby knees, land in 4th position and then slide your feet together fast into first position to get that 10!
    • Use bacitracin and zinc oxcide (JUST LIKE I SAID!) to heal rips.
    • What’s good for the media isn’t necessarily good for the gymnast. Don’t fall into the sexist expectation of being expected to smile all the time. Being in the zone like Nastia and Shannon is fine.
    • If you go on tour, do full difficulty! Fans paid hard-earned money to watch you.
    • Rolls on beam are awesome. Always do them to stand out like Shannon!
    • Plan for rest, not just for competition.
    • Gymnasts have to feel comfortable talking to their coaches, gymnastics is too dangerous to for silence.

Guest Links

Steve Nunno Poster
If Steve Nunno quotes were Motivational Posters by Spanny Tampson. “Stop crying! There are people everywhere!” – Steve Nunno, July 25, 1996 as Miller cried about under-performing on floor exercise in the Olympic all-around final.


Spanny Tampson made Steve Nunno motivation posters. Keep in mind, this is not a work of fiction, these are actual quotes.

Find out more about Shannon Miller’s exercise videos, fight against cancer, books and foundation here.


What: Do your favorite Shannon Miller pose or choreography.

How: Post it on Twitter or Instagram, tag us and use  any of these Steve Nunno quote hashtags: #ItsMillerTime or #InterGalacticChampion or #MillerTimeContest

Deadline: Monday, June 1st

Winner: Gets a copy of Shannon’s book!

SHannon Miller interview
© Renee Parenteau

Related Episodes


Related Videos

Shannon Miller’s Eponymous Skills: The Miller on beam. The Miller on bars.

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8 years ago

In reading the book, it was particularly interesting to see her perspective in growing up in Edmond and at OU as I grew up in Oklahoma around the same time. My husband and his cousin were at the assembly in middle school where she performed and were quite amazed. It has stuck with them for years. They have several memories of her at school, mostly tied to gymnastics. His cousin graduated with Shannon and we were at OU at the same time. I once was almost run over by Shannon in college (which she surely doesn’t know) as I recognized her and that car coming out of a garage and stopped walking. in awe.. In any case, I am fine and very much enjoyed her stories and perspective on life, careers, and gymnastics. I am so proud of all she has achieved for herself, her family, and as a representative of our state and nation.

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