The No. 1 Gymnastics Podcast in the Galaxy

168: Shannon Miller, Belarusgate, NED vs GB

viatlana Lifenka and Valeryia Tsekhmistrenka ousted by Belarusan president behind the Bolshoi theater in minsk
Nellie Kim and Belarus President, Alexander Lukashenko are at the center of a controversy that left Belarusian gymnasts, Sviatlana Lifenka (R) and Valeryia Tsekhmistrenka (L) out of Worlds.


This Week's Interview

The most decorated gymnast in American history, three-time Olympian, and Olympic gold medalist and world champion, Shannon Miller graced us with her presence for a second time! We squealed with glee! Shannon told us about:

  • Her new line of leotards and leisure wear
  • Handling commentators and public discussion of her body and puberty
  • Who she’s excited to watch at Glasgow Worlds
  • Chusovitina and the longevity of adult gymnasts
  • What she thought of the winning impression video from our It’s Not About Perfect book giveaway contest.
  • Tips on learning her famous back extension rolls on beam
  • Settles the debate for us: Is high altitude ever an excuse for poor conditioning?

In the News

In the news, Uncle Tim, Lauren Hopkins, and Jessica chat about:

  • Belarusgate
    • Two Americans were granted expedited dual-Belarusian citizenship and state that they will compete for Belarus instead of the native Belarusian team.
    • The American teens’ interview with International Gymnast was off-putting to say the least (read it here).
    • We separate fact from fiction and explain why the Americans aren’t technically switching countries at all or breaking International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) rules.
    • Lauren helps us get to know the current Belarusian team members
    • Uncle Tim puts this kind of “make your own team” activity into historical context for gymnastics and other Olympic sports.
    • Our opinions on what the unintended consequences of this precedent could be and where we should go from here.
  • Netherlands vs. British-friendly meet
    • Eythora Thorsdottir debuted a new floor routine that’s causing controversy and our artistic hearts to bleed with joy!
    • Could Ellie Downie be the dark horse for an all-around medal in Glasgow?
    • Why the Netherlands are leading the way: in innovation, the Spirit of The Code, and unique beam construction.
  • Natasha Coates is our gym-hero of the week!
    • Find out why here.

WHAT: Elevate of The Stage:  Xcel, J.O., with Auburn vs. Alabama dual meet finale
WHEN: January 16-17, 2016
WHERE: Legacy Arena at the BJCC in Birmingham, Alabama
SPECIALNESS: It’s on podium and the college coaches will watch the top levels on Saturday night.

  • $250 off of a gym’s registration (20 or more gymnasts) to compete in the JO meet and no team fees.
  • Four VIP passes to watch the college meet on the floor, access to hospitality and four free t-shirts.
    ***With this, the winner will have to be someone 18 or older because recruitable gymnasts can’t be on the floor during college meet competition (blame the NCAA rules).


  1. Like us on Facebook
  2. Send us an email with the subject line “Elevate the Stage” to

DEADLINE: Sunday, October 18th
More details on the Elevate the Stage podium meet here.

Related Links
Kwan, Dickson Eager for Worlds Debut on Behalf of Belarus, the International Gymnast interview.

Meet the Belarusian Gymnasts from The Gymternet

Why I’m angry about Belarus by Lauren Hopkins

Shannon Miller’s new leotard collection

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8 years ago

Uncle Tim: Mykayla Skinner BURN!!

Nick Mann
Nick Mann
8 years ago
Reply to  Mari

That being said….the average American….maybe even the above average American can’t tell you how many justices there are on the Supreme Court. Including me…but I CAN tell you how many whipbacks Kim Zmeskal did in her signature pass!!!

That being said…I don’t blame these girls. They’re 16 and training an elite schedule…if someone offers you a chance to go to Worlds, who in their right mind would say ‘ no’? Blame adults in charge…not them.

My question…if they earned an Olympic birth, would the IOC allow them to compete…I know it was mentioned they were never registered with the FIG as athletes for the US…but I didn’t know if the IOC would allow them.

8 years ago

I\’m from Spain, and a few years ago I attended one of the internal competitions that the Spanish National Team regularly holds. I was sitting in the stands, close to the moms, and innocently asked about Silvia Colussi-Peláez, her training, upgrades, etc. I quickly noticed some animosity among the moms when speaking about her, particularly when speaking about the fact that despite she was a member of the Spanish National team, she was still living at home in Canada. As you all probably know, the Spanish team has to leave home and move to the CAR (Center for High Performance) where they live, train, and go to school. And this place is awesome, they do have the best of everything… but they don\’t have their families, and that is a major sacrifice.
Despite Silvia was legitimately a Spanish citizen, spoke the language, etc., just because the team needed her at the time, she was given a privilege that the rest of the Spanish team wasn\’t, which is living at home, despite she occasionally had to travel to Spain to train with the rest of the team.
A few days later I went to one of the former team member\’s, and asked about Silvia. Her answer literally was \”well, we didn\’t like it at the beginning, but it is what it is, and she is a good gymnast\”
My point with this is that even in cases when gymnasts are completely legit to compete for a country, sometimes big privileges are given, and if this happens, obvious animosity follows… because it is not OK (and please, don\’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against Silvia, I think she is a gorgeous gymnast, and I always have her in my Fantasy Gym roster). But rules are rules for a reason and they should apply to everybody, no exceptions. In the case of Belarus, I am pretty sure that being a member of their national team means following a certain amount of rules too (just like the American team has to attend camps, for instance), and I\’m pretty sure that these rules that go beyond the legality of the citizenship situation, are also being bent for the American intruders, while they meant an extra sacrifice for the actual Belarusian gymnasts for years. I believe that we need to add this to our growing list of reasons to be outraged about this situation.
PS: looooove this show, looooove you guys, loooove Shannon Miller!!

Sabrina M
Sabrina M
8 years ago

Uncle Tim, your attitude of \”so be it\” is pretty sad and irresponsible. So disappointed. Why even have countries then? Seriously.

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