THIS WEEK’S INTERVIEW
Betty Okino escaped an assassination attempt as a child, has two skills named after her in the Code of Points, won an Olympic medal just six years after her very first gymnastics class, was 5′ 1″ tall during the Barcelona Games, danced for Destiny’s Child with Beyonce, acted in movies and televsion, is a polyglot, was the first black female gymnast to win an Olympic medal along with Dominque Dawes in 1992. Betty was one of the famed “Karolyi’s Six-Pack” (nickname for his elite training squad in the 90’s) era gymnasts who dominated US gymnastics after the Mary Lou Retton years. As an Afro-Romanian-refugee-dancer turned Olympian, and now as a gymnastics choreographer she has a uniquely-positioned perspective on the sport. We chatted on March 21st and discussed:
- Her appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show where she defended the training methods of Bela Karyoli after the expose Little Girls in Pretty Boxes came out.
- Her thoughts on the issues around athlete welfare McKayla Maroney brought up in her interview with us.
- Her refugee story: Why her family had to escape Uganda
- Romanian speaker: What she overheard in those days when Bela and Marta didn’t know she could speak Romanian
- Examples of the technical genius we hear so much about in Marta Karolyi.
- Advantages and disadvantages of being part of the famous Karyolyi Six-Pack.
- Injuries: Did the doctors ever warn her about what could happen from competing with a fractured back?
- The state of artistry in gymnastics, judging and what can be done to encourage artistry in the code.
Betty can choreograph your routine or give specific skill feedback. Contact her via Precision Choreography.
SUPPORT THE SHOW
- 148: Shannon Miller
- 187: McKayla Maroney
- Episode 38: Svetlana Boginskaya
- Episode 15: Joan Ryan Author of Little Girls in Pretty Boxes
- Episode 17: Growing Up In The Soviet Gymnastics System And Training At Round Lake
- Episode 28: Kristen Maloney
- Episode 31: Elise Ray
- Episode 41: Laurie Hernandez & Coach Maggie Haney
- 113: Junior & Senior Women’s Finals from the 2014 US Championships in Pittsburgh, plus an Interview with Kim Zmeskal Burdette
- 177: Stella Umeh
- Episode 22: Beth Tweddle
- Episode 48: Kyla Ross
Will it Ever Be Good Enough? I Spent Too Much Time Being Embarrassed by My Bronze by Betty’s Olympic teammate, Wendy Bruce