The No. 1 Gymnastics Podcast in the Galaxy

200: Alicia Sacramone

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THIS WEEK’S INTERVIEW

We are honored and humbled to welcome back the legend herself, Alicia Sacramone, to celebrate our 200th episode. She joined us for episode 43, the  first ever panel on LGBT Issues in Gymnastics in 2013. Since then she’s married her longtime boyfriend, started a few businesses, and began coaching and doing choreography. Alicia is expecting her first child this summer. The Olympic silver medalist, 10x World medalist and 4x World Champion discussed: 

  • The crazy vault she never got to compete
  • Her goal as a television analyst for the SEC Network
  • Competing in college at Brown and elite simultaneously
    • How Marta Karolyi reacted and why she decided to go pro with Under Armour
  •  Transitioning to the open-ended scoring system: 
    • The 2006 floor leap series incident when her routine wasn’t credited and she didn’t make finals
    • Placing behind Cheng Fei in 2008 Olympic vault final even though Fei had a fall
    • Which gymnast rocked the Code of Points best
  • Clarifying the facts from Shawn Johnson’s recent speech for the Regan Foundation. 
  • The Comeback:
    • Tokyo World Championships achilles tear, pain medication and fan reactions to her being awarded the team gold medal even though she couldn’t compete.
    • How her husband and cross training helped, and what technology she used to come back better than ever after her injury. 
    • Why Brestyan’s gymnasts don’t get injured when they land short. Here is a video sample of  “Brestyan Legs” 
  • 2012 Olympic Trials: what happened behind the scenes, did the selection committee make the right choice, and what she did to get over it
  • Almost getting into a fight with Isabella Severino (FRA) on the dance floor and the competition floor!
  • Being the Athlete Representative at USA Gymnastics
    • Combating barbaric training methods
    • How she promoted positive body image and health education
    • Why USA Gymnastics has struggled to retain dietitians and nutritionists for the national team. 
    • Her own struggles with healthy eating
  • Growing up in a leotard: 
    • A little advice about boobs, hygiene, underwear and hair that every coach, parent and gymnast can benefit from. 
  • Are cameras too close to gymnasts on the sidelines of the competition?
    • What she tells the directors on the SEC Network about appropriate and inappropriate shots.

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28 COMMENTS

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Desiree
Desiree
5 years ago

Who would she have been better than on the Fierce Five? They won the team gold, AA and had wins in event finals. Who? Douglas, Wieber, Raisman, Ross and Moroney? She’s not a bars worker so she couldn’t have replaced Ross or Douglas, Wieber was the reigning world champ, Raisman was floor champion and bronze on beam, Moroney did one of the best vaults in this history of the sports. Yeah, she fell on her 2nd vault in the EF’s. Still, she was clutch. This interview made me dislike Alicia. She throws shade at so many people in this interview. Has she very thought that maybe she just wasnt good enough in 2012. She’d already been to the O’s and wasn’t clutch as I remember.

flippateer
flippateer
5 years ago
Reply to  Desiree

She was pretty clearly implying that she should have gone instead of McKayla because she would have brought back the vault gold medal. Which may be true, given McKayla\’s freak second vault. That said, as others have pointed out, there is a certain irony to Alicia throwing shade at people who fall at the Olympics. Loved her assertion that people who fall (in EFs) shouldn\’t medal. If extrapolated to the team context, would mean she should return that silver.

Desiree
Desiree
5 years ago

I do appreciate her honesty though.

RLA
RLA
5 years ago

Team Severino!

D
D
5 years ago

Shawn is a lil shady. She likes to re-write history. In the usa gymnastics vid about the aa in Beijing, she stated how she had the meet of her life, and she was hitting routines just like Nastia was. Which she wasn’t, there was a long wait on her vault and she barely got it around, she had a wobble on her standing full on beam, and small other things as well as the judges hitting her harder,,. It def wasn’t the meet of her life, but I just found it interesting, and now with what she said about being team captain. hmmm.

flippateer
flippateer
5 years ago
Reply to  D

I thought that the most extraordinary assertion from Shawn in the speech Gymcastic asked Alicia about was Shawn’s contention that she was “guaranteed” to be on the 2012 team and withdrew because she couldn’t bear to take a spot from those who made it. I lost a lot of respect for her after hearing her say something that obviously untrue.

Jack Matheson
Jack Matheson
5 years ago
Reply to  D

How is reflecting on your own performance shady? She must have had a pretty good meet to have taken silver. 😉 Does anyone have a link to Shawn talking about being team captain?

Jack Matheson
Jack Matheson
5 years ago
Reply to  GymCasticCrew

Awesome, thanks!!! 🙂

Lulu
Lulu
5 years ago
Reply to  GymCasticCrew

I don\’t think Shawn was actually saying that she was the team captain, I think that she was saying that all of the expectations and the pressure that the media put on her named her as the team captain as in the strongest competitor on the team who was going to lead them all to victory

D
D
5 years ago
Reply to  Jack Matheson

It’s called memory bias. She is enhancing her story. Did she have the meet of her life imo, Not at all. Her vault, and beam weren’t the greatest etc. Did she have a horrible meet. Not at all. It was a good meet. But when I think of someone who had the ‘meet of their life’ after struggling with injuries etc leading up to Beijing, It was Nastia from her first vault on…, I would have respected Shawn if in the video she was real and said’ I made a few errors etc’ and gave it up to Nastia. Instead she re wrote history in her own mind and said tied herself into Nastias moment imo… Again this is such a minor thing. But then I saw her speech about how she was team captain etc, It gave me an ‘all about me’ type of vibe. So imo thats a bit shady. She still was a great gymnast etc.

Rachel
Rachel
5 years ago
Reply to  D

Did you also hear her brag about how she was a lock for, and going to be the leader and star of the 2012 team and turned it down because her heart just wasn\’t in it anymore? I know we don\’t know all the behind the scenes stuff and what all of her reasoning was, but it was pretty obvious from what was made public that her knee rendered her inable to continue, and she was a long, long shot to make the team when she WAS coming back. Then there was the team captain stuff. I love Shawn, but i don\’t know what to think after that speech and it really just left a bad taste in my mouth about her. It made her seem so stuck up and the whole speech just sounded like a whole lot of b.s. to make her sound good. I agree about the AA thing too. She likes to make herself sound like the star in hindsight, but she didn\’t have the best meet. She didn\’t have an awful meet, but make quite a few uncharacteristic mistakes that arguably cost her the AA.

Rachel
Rachel
5 years ago
Reply to  D

Wasn’t a fall a .8, not a .5 deduction in the 2008 code?

Anna
5 years ago
Reply to  Rachel

I think it’s about a fall when landing a vault. A beam fall was 0.8.

Ray Liu
Ray Liu
5 years ago

Great interview! I really admire Alicia\’s honesty and lack of filter. It\’s so refreshing to hear someone in gymnastics so open and candid with her thoughts and feelings!!

But that said, I wish Jess had probed further on her feelings of the 2012 Olympic team. Given that the Fierce Five won the gold medal, who did Alicia think should have been left off so that she could have been on? And (I know this will wound a bit crass, but…) what case did she make for herself given how she fell apart in the 2008 Olympic team finals?

I ask this because I know most of America thought she ruined our chances in 2008 (even if that wasn\’t mathematically the case) and were glad to not see her have a second chance in 2012…

Gizzly
Gizzly
5 years ago
Reply to  Ray Liu

Maroney was falling all over the place at trials and had injuries/concussion issues. If Alicia had gone only for vault (Just like Mckayla) she would have had a team gold and a vault medal. But hindsight is 20/20. Maroney was guaranteed that gold if she just put it to her feet. Alicia even said in the interview that a fall shouldn\’t be awarded a medal so it\’s pretty clear she thinks she should have gone in Mckayla\’s place.

SS
SS
5 years ago
Reply to  Gizzly

I feel like she was also trying to hint that she was usable on other events and not only vault so she offered more to the team. However, she did fall twice in 2008 so I\’m not surprised Martha wasn\’t willing to put her on the team. I have always been surprised she wasn\’t an alternate tho.

D
D
5 years ago
Reply to  SS

But from my understanding at this point Alicia was only doing vault and beam, she wasnt even doing a floor routine. And wasnt Maroney going to compete on more events if it wasnt for her toe?

Anna
5 years ago
Reply to  D

Yes, Maroney was supposed to do floor as well.

Lauren H
Lauren H
5 years ago
Reply to  SS

She may have fallen twice in 2008, but she NEVER fell again in a major competition after that…never once. If Marta had this grudge against Alicia that so many people like to insinuate, why would she have named her to both the 2010 & 2011 World teams? I don’t understand why people focus so much on what happened in 2008. Personally, I would have had her on the team over Maroney. I love Maroney, but Alicia offered more to the team (vault, beam, potentially floor) IMO.

ts
ts
5 years ago

Wait, did Jessica just say that young female athletes should have boyfriends (what about girlfriends? ahem..) because they need that kind of validation for their bodies??? Good lord…

Anna
5 years ago
Reply to  GymCasticCrew

The Polish current and previous national champions are married women, by the way. 🙂 And they’re both better gymnasts than they were before their weddings. 🙂

Caroline Just
Caroline Just
5 years ago

Just wanted to add that Toradol (ketoralac) is not really that dangerous of a drug, particularly in healthy young athletes. It\’s basically like taking 4 advils. Slight increased risk of certain NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents) side effects (stomach inflammation, stomach bleeding, acute and usually temporary kidney injury) but even just Aspirin is higher risk for bleeding.

Great interview! IMHO her honesty is very refreshing.

Rachel
Rachel
5 years ago
Reply to  Caroline Just

I don’t think they meant the danger of the drug’s chemical effects on the body. A big risk with a lot of injections used for moderate injuries and pain in athletes is that it allows the athlete to push themselves too far and cause a more severe injury (which is exactly what happened to Alicia). Our bodies use pain to tell us something is wrong and removing that red flag allows someone to push themselves too far without realizing it since they are not feeling the pain.
I mean, I get why they do it and I know in elite sports pain and minor or moderate injury is put in a different context, but the analgesic effects are a risk and probably what they were referring to.

Ollie
Ollie
5 years ago

Congratulations on reaching 200 episodes! It\’s amazing that y\’all have been doing this for almost four years and can still pull out surprises like this interview. The interview was great and I really liked hearing her reflections on the 2012 trials and how she is using her own experiences to make sure the girls she coaches have a positive experience in the sport.

I do think the question about the Chinese age controversy was kinda unnecessary. Y\’all have mentioned in the past how a lot of the Chinese gymnasts receive these comments (like Shang Chunsong) to invalidate their success. This question seemed to contradict that sentiment and detract from the fact that the US team just didn\’t perform well enough to secure the team gold on that day.

Anna
5 years ago
Reply to  Ollie

It happily seems to be less on an issue today. Also, look at Ragan Smith and tell me she’s a senior. 🙂

But the 2000 Chinese team was stripped of their medal, Korea had a ban for age falsification… China as a country brought it on themselves. The gymnasts are put between a rock and a hard place – even if they are forced to lie about their age, we should keep in mind that they are doing great work.

Rose
Rose
4 years ago

Wow, she comes across as such an arrogant, entitled, bitter snob. I remember being a huge fan of hers and feeling devastated for her when I watched the 2008 Olympics, but now I can say I have zero sympathy. It\’s pretty rich to listen to hear her imply that she should have had Maroney\’s spot in London. That fall was a complete fluke that no one could have predicted, and she contributed the highest score during the team final. Does Alicia have amnesia about that time she fell twice during team finals, failed to qualify on floor, and placed 4th in vault finals? All that aside, it\’s just terrible sportsmanship to whine and complain about how she was somehow robbed when she wasn\’t even good enough to be named an alternate. She had two chances, Athens and Beijing and she blew it both times. I\’d take McKayla Maroney over her any day — both as an athlete and a human being.

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