TIM DAGGETT: GymCastic is fantastic!
ANNA LI: GymCastic is fantastic!
LOUIS SMITH: GymCastic is fantastic!
JESSICA: Welcome to GymCastic episode 3! I am Jessica O’Beirne from masters-gymnastics.com and I’m joined by
BLYTHE: Blythe Lawrence of the Gymnastics Examiner
SPANNY: Spanny Tampson from Spanny’s Big Fake Smile
UNCLE TIM: And Uncle Tim of Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym
JESSICA: This week, we are going to give you guys our interview with Anna Li. It’s really exciting. You can hear what really happened in London with her neck injury and you’re going to hear a little behind the scenes of what’s going on in the tour. It’s really funny. It cracked us up. And I wanna let you guys know that you can find us on iTunes. You can now subscribe. Also, you can now listen to the podcast on our website, GymCastic.com. We’re on Twitter. We’re also on Facebook. And so let’s get started this week. Blythe and her mom, which I think is the best thing ever, went to the tour and you can read about her mom’s review on the Gymnastics Examiner this week. So Blythe, tell us about the tour and what your mom thought.
BLYTHE: Well, it’s always interesting to go to a gymnastics event with somebody who doesn’t know the sport as well as you do because you tend to find their comments pretty hilarious and that was definitely the case when I went with my mom on the tour. And you know, she really liked it as a show and I really was watching as more of the hardcore gymnastics fan. A couple of observations: Rebecca Bross looked amazing. She did two tumbling lines that were incredible. She did a 1.5 through to a front double full. She did a handspring front layout front double full and she was looking fabulous on bars as well. She’s regained a lot of her difficulty. With the guys, it was a lot of basics, very good basics. And, I was impressed overall. I think Jake Dalton has amazing toe point and everybody else was very good too. My mom really thought that the artistry of Chellsie Memmel was spectacular. She did a very nice like half floor routine and that made my friend and I kind of laugh a bit because Chellsie’s not been known for her artistry but that was the opinion of the fair-weather fan who watches the Olympics and doesn’t watch much else. Other than that, everything was very nice. It was a good show and I’d recommend going when it comes to your city.
JESSICA: Cool. And remind everyone again, why was it that your mom thought that Nastia was getting paid more? I wasn’t sure. She was like “Oh Nastia’s getting paid more because she has two acts like all to herself.” And I was like, “Oh yeah, she has a great agent.” But your mom said something else.
BLYTHE: Well my mom was thinking when Nastia does the silks that she gets very dizzy. There’s a lot of stuff where she kind of goes up and she has her arms sort of looped through a bit of a trapeze and she just spins around and around and around. At one point, she also does the splits in kind of a net and the net gets lifted up into the air maybe 15 feet and it also spins around and around. And that’s when mom turns to me and she goes, “How does she not get dizzy? They must be paying her more than they’re paying everyone else.” Well, who knows?
JESSICA: (giggles) Classic. So let’s talk about what is happening in the news this week. We have some major drama going on in Russia.
BLYTHE: And it’s hard to say whether it’s really major drama or whether it’s one of those executive decisions made by a committee that they think is not going to have much of a repercussion but the press gets a hold of it and turns it into this enormous thing. And that’s what happened when Alexander Alexandrov, he is no longer the head coach of the Russian women’s team. He is the personal trainer of Aliya Mustafina and the Russian Sports Council met and they determined that Alexander Alexandrov is no longer going to be the head of the team because, perhaps there was some feeling that he divided his attention between his personal duties as Mustafina’s coach and his duties to the team and that contributed maybe, maybe not, to the performances the Russians had during the Olympic Games. I wanted to ask you guys what you thought of the controversy that has come out from this. It sounds like it’s not over. And I’m really interested to hear your opinions.
SPANNY: I agree that I think it’s a bit of drama. I think that the extra dramatic part comes from, there’s a Russian Facebook, I don’t know what it’s called, something Vk, I’d butcher it if I tried, but on Russian facebook, supposedly there’s a group where the national team posts, at least some of them. There have been a lot of interesting entries from all the girls really. Just not a lot of support for the old head coach, kind of digs at each other. There’s been some drama about Komova calling her fans “useless vegetables” or something. I think that’s added to some of the drama as well as the social media aspect. Everybody’s got a voice, a platform now to to yak about it. Yeah I think a lot of what they’re saying too is that you don’t know what happens behind the scenes, you’re not here, useless vegetable fans. You have no say. So, I think that’s added an interesting element to the discussion.
UNCLE TIM: Well, I have to be honest. I haven’t been following the story as closely as other people and monitoring the social media aspect of it but I am a little curious whether, what Alexandrov is like exactly. It seems like not many people get along with him. If you read Dominique Moceanu’s book, it sounds like there was some tension between the Karolyis and Alexandrov and Dominique obviously offers her own opinion of why the tensions existed. But there also seems to be tension within the Russian camp and so I’m curious, you know, why is there so much tension and controversy surrounding him. I don’t know. None of us know him personally so we can’t really answer that question. I’d like to find out.
JESSICA: Yeah, we were talking to Dvora Meyers and everyone should check out her site, Unorthodox Gymnastics, and she was saying how she has a family member who was coached, or whose daughter was coached by him and they really liked him. I feel like a lot of people really got along with him and liked him as a coach. Didn’t he coach Mohini for a while too, I think? I might be totally wrong about that, but right?
BLYTHE: Yeah I think so after Olympic Trials.
JESSICA: Yeah. I don’t know. It’s interesting. One cultural aspect of this thing that I find fascinating is that you know, we complain a lot in the US about how there’s no transparency. We don’t know what’s going on. We don’t know what’s behind the scenes and yet there’s supposed to be some aspect and you know people not taking sides but then in Russia they have no problem with putting it all out there and giving interviews about why people changed over. And apparently there’s also a video that someone got of the meeting where the decision was made. And if you guys have ever looked at the USA Gymnastics minutes, there could not be less detail in those minutes. It’s basically like “decided on x.” “voted for blah blah blah.” You would never know what goes on. So I think it’s interesting that on the one hand, it’s looked down up to kind of air your dirty laundry, but on the other hand we get on our side, there’s absolutely no transparency I think. And knowing what decisions are made and why something’s happened. So that’s an interesting part of this whole thing.
BLYTHE: One thing that I read this morning is that the new coach, Yevgeny Grebenkin, sorry if I butchered his name, actually has two pupils who are on the Russian National Team or close to the Russian National Team. Ekaterina Baturina, who was a junior. She competed at the Pacific Rim Championships earlier this year, and Diana Elkina, who’s a senior this year as well. And he is their personal coach. And if the Russians have made this decision to remove Alexandrov because they feel that there’s a duality in him coaching Mustafina and looking after the Russian team, they’re going to have to address this with Grebenkin as well. And to see how they do that will be interesting.
JESSICA: Definitely. I think especially since you know this is how it used to be with the Karolyis. And like basically when Bela was coaching, everybody had to go to him in order to make a name for themselves and make an Olympic team. And then there was all so much controversy because it was like well, he’s also the Olympic coach and there’s all this favoritism. And so that seemed to be kind of the issue, we were thinking, with Alexandrov. But now he only had one person, which was Mustafina, but then the new coach was her bars coach, but now the new coach also has two personal students. So, this is getting very interesting.
BLYTHE: And I just want to give a plug to the blog Rewriting Russian Gymnastics. Really fabulous coverage of this whole controversy as it’s exploded and translated articles from Russian. So if you’re interested in the topic, definitely go check that out.
JESSICA: Yeah, and Rewriting Russian Gymnastics, can you please tell us like what the deal is with this Russian Facebook and if it’s totally legit? And what you think about it? And give us some insight on this. Because it would be fabulous if it was really legit, and we would like to know that so we can report more on it. So…
JESSICA: yeah, let us know. Oh. Let’s get into the money. Uncle Tim.
UNCLE TIM: So late Friday evening I was looking up some information, and I realized that the internet has the celebrity net worth site, celebritynetworth.com. And I was looking up famous people like Ryan Gosling, etc., and I found out that gymnasts were also listed. And so I do have the net worth of several female gymnasts. And it turns out that Shawn Johnson is worth $9 million, Alicia Sacramone is worth $8 million, Mary Lou Retton is worth $5.8 million, Dominique Dawes is worth $2.5 million, and Nastia is at the bottom of the list with $2 million. And I think if I’m not mistaken, that’s roughly was Lindsay Lohan is also worth nowadays. So I guess, what are your thoughts? Do you think it’s accurate? Do you see any areas that are kind of surprising? What do you guys think?
SPANNY: I think it being… again, the Shawn Johnson figure, that seems reasonable. Because she’s everywhere. We’ve seen the commercial 800 million times. The Alicia figure is interesting, it’s higher than I would have thought. But she’s, you know, I know she’s done deodorant stuff. But I guess with the Under Armour. Honestly Nastia’s numbers are a little shocking. I blame her agent. And he’s kind of a douche. But that’s a whole other discussion. Yeah I mean she’s also obviously been everywhere, so I have to think that the numbers are a little… I don’t know where they get their figures from or anything, but seems a little surprising.
JESSICA: I think Alicia’s numbers are probably have everything to do with, like you said, the Under Armour thing. Because I know that Under Armour gives stock in the company, rather than just a flat rate, a flat payment. So Under Armour has totally blown up. I don’t know where they rank in terms of like I don’t know Puma and Nike and all those, but I know they’re doing really really well. So that might be where all of her wealth is – you know wealth – is coming from, if in fact these numbers are correct. And it makes me kind of sad for Nastia, because I feel like she’s such a great person and a great model. And I feel like it’s just really sad that she wasn’t able to… like, I mean, is that really sad that she wasn’t able to make more money off her gold medal? That’s really terrible to say. But I wish that, really what the thing is that I wish that every Olympic gymnast could be, like make a ton of money and keep doing gymnastics for a really long time. I mean that’s what I would like to see. I mean not that $2 million is anything to scoff at.
UNCLE TIM: I’m kind of curious also about the other members of the Magnificent Seven. Shannon Miller wasn’t listed. Yeah. So, I’m curious as to those numbers, but I mean, they’re out there so, there’s not much else you can do I guess.
SPANNY: Isn’t Shannon… didn’t she, she just came out with, I saw her DVD at Target. She has a prenatal or maternal, some sort of exercise or something health. I don’t know. But it’s like if you’re at Target, you’ve hit the big time.
SPANNY: You should be on that list.
JESSICA: A perfect way to segue into our next discussion. I’ve been looking forward to this all week. So Uncle Tim has prepared a special quiz.
UNCLE TIM: Alright so I’ve been looking at the men’s and women’s Code of Points. And I’ve been looking at the changes and stuff and I’ve decided that the most pressing issue that we need to discuss is the fashion. The issue of the gymnasts’ attire and the judges’ attire, etc. And so anyone who’s been to a gymnastics meet knows that the judges have a very specific look that they have to go for. And the women female judges need to wear a dark blue suit and a white blouse. And let’s be honest, it’s a pretty boring look. I would describe it as… almost as uninspired as a Gina Gogean floor routine, is one way to describe it. And so I was wondering if you guys had any thoughts about what the judges should wear. Blythe? Oh ok. Actually go ahead Jessica.
JESSICA: [laughing] Alright. My only thing is that I think the judges now have to have a little slot, like a payment slot, in the back of their jackets so they can take the money that you have to pay when you want to put in an inquiry. Which is now up to $300. I’m pretty sure that’s right. $300 for an inquiry. It’s absolutely insane. Basically it makes it so if you’re from a poor country, you can never fight your D score. Ever. Like it’s not an option for you. And I totally hate it. So I think it should be super blatant and they should have a big like glittery deposit box on the back of their jackets with a money sign on it.
BLYTHE: A rhinestone deposit box.
SPANNY: Like at the casino, you can put in a certain amount and spin the wheel. That’s how I see it.
BLYTHE: I went to this meet in Seattle maybe five years ago, and it was sponsored by Harley Davidson. It was very cool. The gymnasts all had these studded grommeted leotards, and there were Harley Davidson bikes by the balance beam. Like seriously you could dismount and go over to the bike and take a picture with your teammates or whatever. And the judges got really into the whole biker chick, biker look. And they all marched out at the beginning of the meet to “Bad to the Bone.” And they were wearing black leather and studs and motorcycle boots and bandanas, and they looked really thrilled to be wearing those and not the navy blue suits they usually wear. So if judges wanted to dress up in biker chick and judge meets like that, I think that would provide a level of entertainment to everybody, the crowd, the gymnast, the coaches, probably to themselves. So I vote for that.
UNCLE TIM: Can you imagine Nellie Kim dressed as a biker chick? Like wearing like leather chaps and [laughs] like a dog collar with studs? I don’t know, I want to see that. Doesn’t talking about these costumes make you kind of miss the Rock and Roll Gymnastics Championships? Like the pro gymnastics championships? Or not at all? Spanny, it looks like you have a response to that.
SPANNY: When I think like… Ok there’s two schools of thought on the Rock and Roll. Like my first thought is again Moceanu wearing figure skating little dresses. Or like, there was always a perverse thing where like “she’s wearing a little skirt, now she’s wiggling her butt.” I always thought, I mean even though I was younger and I was “all hail Moceanu,” I thought that was a little weird. However, Vanessa Atler, at one of those she wore a tank top with a collar. She was dancing to Grease and she wore a tank top with a collar. I searched high and low for a tank top with a collar, probably six months. And I think I found it and actually never wore it. But I don’t know they were never so much rock and roll so much as they were just excuse to wear weird outfits that are not complimentary toward gymnastics at all.
JESSICA: Yeah I’d have to agree. I would love to see that again, like… and the thing I loved about it is they always had foreign gymnasts. The ones that have studied choreography and dance, like that kind of thing. Those are the people I love to see. The outfits were always a little weird. Yeah like the one with the leotard with the skirt on it, when it’s like… I just feel like it’s ew, it’s kind of icky, I don’t like it. but yeah there’s something weird about it. It doesn’t bother me in ice skating but gymnastics it does. I don’t know why. But totally the foreign gymnasts would be so fantastic on that. And this is a great place for me to talk about – we’re totally off topic now – when I lived in Germany, I saw the post Olympic tour. And I don’t know if it went all around Europe, but it was after 92. So hello, best Olympics ever. I don’t care what anyone else says. And if you weren’t born then, you need to go back and watch the whole thing. You can still buy it from like CBS or NBC. Simulcast. They showed every single routine. Hello. So it was like all the Russians, the Ukrainians, the Romanians. So Boginskaya was on it. And men’s and women’s team, and the Germans all together. And the Spanish. Those weird Fraguas sisters I think. They had weird weird, weird leotards, that’s why I’m saying that. But anyway it was fantastic and they did real stuff and they did full routines. It was the best tour I’ve ever seen. To this day, it’s the best gymnastics performance show I’ve ever seen. So if there was a combination of what that show was like and the Rock and Roll thing but without skirts, I would totally be in.
SPANNY: I have images of Khorkina. I know she did a couple of the shows when she was over here, and she always like, they would give you a 10. And she would always score 10s across the board. But always felt like it was her normal routines and her normal choreography just with like lyrics and American rock and roll – I’m doing quotes, you can’t see them on the air – but rock and roll music. And it was a 10! She’s Khorkina. She had a sappy face and she blew a kiss. She wins.
JESSICA: Yes, as it should be. Ok where were we on fashion? Totally off topic.
UNCLE TIM: We were going to start talking about girls’ uniforms. Their attire. And so we were kind of on topic still. but anyways there are very strict rules governing what the women can and cannot wear. They can’t wear spaghetti straps. Their straps have to be two centimeters wide. They can’t have a plunging neckline. Other 11 rules governing the outfits, but I think that they still need more. And for me I think there needs to be a rhinestone limit of some sort. If you are shinier than Edward on Twilight, that’s a problem. And so I feel like there needs to be some sort of limit there. What do you guys think? What would you like to see added to the code of points?
SPANNY: I would like a mesh deduction. I don’t see the need for mesh really in any circumstance. They’re already wearing spandex. And if you really have a need to make your leotard fit to making it look like you’re not wearing parts of the leotard, I think that’s wrong. And again and now they just get sloppy with it. With mesh, obviously you have to wear underpants, undergarments and things. And half the time you can see right through the mesh to their bras or whatever else. And I’m not trying to be all old lady Stick It judge whatever. But it is distracting. Like a bra strap, whatever. But it’s like when it’s Ferrari and you can see side boob, her bra, and then a little strap of fabric in the leotard, like that’s just not necessary. And it’s distracting and certainly not fashionable.
JESSICA: So I totally think that we need two things. First of all. I remember when, ok was it the World in Anaheim? The whole British team had these mint color greenish leotards on. And I was sitting like right in the front. And they were completely see-through. I mean totally totally totally see-through. And you could see like all their different underwears. So you could see some people were wearing a sports bra, some people were wearing something else, some people were wearing a thong, some people were wearing like flowery underpants. So there really needs to be some sort of underwear uniformity sort of thing. Like I don’t want to go back to the days where the Romanians used to sew their underpants into their leotards. Like oh no no. That’s so tacky. We can’t have that. But you know something where it’s sports attire that’s you know kind of close to your, either matches your leotard color, matches your skin color, something like that. You know, something that’s uniform. And then we really need to talk about this. The leotard going above your hip. That seriously needs to be like a three point deduction. Not three tenths, three points. Like we just cannot have this. And seriously with the way that this is going, we’re going to end up like the divers. Did you guys see the divers in the Olympics? Their swimsuits were seriously like thongs in the back. I mean they were out of control. Like they were, it was all butt cheek. It was 80% butt cheek and then 20% tiny piece of fabric. It was totally totally scandalous. I could not believe what I was seeing. If we want to bring more countries into these sports, we seriously need to cover up some butt cheek and leave the hip bones unexposed.
SPANNY: Well and they had, you know China was dedicated for their skimpy leotard, I forget which year but back in the day. And my good friend and I, we – again let me preface this by saying in Minnesota we call them snuggies, not a wedgie, not a whatever, we call it a snuggie. Not those little blanket things. Whatever. If it’s up your butt, it’s a snuggie. But then given that the Chinese leotards were so, you know, up their butts, that was our thing. Was that I have a snuggie bigger than China. And it worked on multiple levels or hilarity. But yeah I mean I don’t understand why they were penalized then, when you see a lot the – I’m sorry to always harp on Romanian leotards – but it’s inappropriate. It is. If you turn around and the camera has to cycle to a different angle because your 16 year-old butt cheeks are in America’s face, or in the World’s face, then there has to be a sizing issue. There has to be another solution other than “this is how we wear it!” Butt cheeks out. They need to deduct for that.
JESSICA: Yeah like if you’re 24 and you’re still wearing extra small, come on. Change the label to say extra small but put it on a large leotard and then give Ponor that one. It’s really out of control.
SPANNY: She was saying, again just recently so she’s on Twitter. And whether or not it’s really her – I think it is because whoever it is posted a picture. You know how people verify their accounts, they hold up a picture of themselves with the twitter address. Whatever. So I have every reason to believe it is her. And she said something, she’s like I… she can’t help it. Like can’t help it that her leotards are halfways up her spine.
JESSICA: No. No.
SPANNY: What can’t you help? Like talk to your leotard… I mean I understand they’re like sponsored and stuff. But there has to be another fit. Another option. I want to say the Brazilian leotards, maybe I don’t know if it was the test event videos. They were lower cut than other countries, but I thought it was nice. I’m going to sound like an old bat right now. But they still had… that didn’t take away from their lines, that didn’t take away anything from them. They just looked like they had leotards that fit as opposed to being small and having to worry about them riding up their butt.
UNCLE TIM: Alright so going from the skimpy end of the spectrum to a more covered approach, the women can wear unitards. And we haven’t really seen this yet on the international scene. And so I was wondering who you think would be able to pull off the unitard look? What do you guys think about the unitard?
BLYTHE: My take on it is that the unitard is introduced to help gymnasts from Muslim countries feel more comfortable performing in the international arena, whereas they dress more modestly and they don’t want to show maybe their legs or the upper part of their thighs. This is really for them. But I think that anybody could you know pull it off. A fashion garment is lifeless until it has a personality that gives it life. And so I think if you’re in the right frame of mind, you can wear just about anything, as we’ve seen in numerous international competitions – not about unitards but about a lot of leotards. So that’s really my take on it. I’m not at all against it. I think it’s probably a good idea. And hey if it brings more international competitors in, that’s all for the good.
JESSICA: I think I like the fact that we’re encouraging people from different religions who have different restrictions to do gymnastics, so I like that. But really, the unitard should be worn by the men. And specifically, I vote for Jordan Jovtchev to make a comeback and wear the unitard. That is what I would like to see.
UNCLE TIM: [laughs] nice. I personally think Nastia should make another comeback and wear the unitard from tour. That’s just my personal preference. Now speaking of the men, you brought up the men Jessica, there are a couple discrepancies – I don’t know if discrepancies is the right word, but the men’s code is definitely different from the women’s code. And the women’s code specifically states the women cannot wear transparent leotards. Their leotards must be non transparent. And so the men’s code does not have this statement, this stipulation. So I was wondering who you think could pull off a transparent leotard. Or who would you like to see wear a transparent leotard. Jessica?
JESSICA: Oleg. Oleg Oleg. Hot Oleg from Ukraine. The little muscle-y wrestler looking but without cauliflower ears vaulter and rings guy. Oleg Oleg Oleg. And I recommend a transparent stripe from… do I sound like the total dirty old woman on this show? [laughs] I don’t care, he would look hot and we would sell a lot more tickets and that’s what men’s gymnastics needs. I don’t care. A transparent stripe from the underarm down to the mid thigh area would be good. Just a little stripe, just a little muscle area on the side.
SPANNY: I’m going to see your Oleg and I’m going to raise you a Philipp Boy. I also have many fantastic ideas for sheer outfits. And that is so hypocritical of me because here I am barking about every girl that’s inappropriate and fantasizing about nude men gymnasts. But hey that’s the rules and that’s what I like. I do, I think German men, a calendar, we would solve some problems that way.
UNCLE TIM: Like the Euro Crisis right?
SPANNY: Right [laughs]
JESSICA: This is becoming the dirtiest podcast ever
UNCLE TIM: I know I think everyone needs to go take a cold shower right now [laughs] and we need to move on.
UNCLE TIM: Before we reveal too many other secrets, also there’s another little difference between the men’s and women’s code. And the code prohibits the women from wearing jewelry, and as far as I can see in the new code, they haven’t indicated that the men cannot wear jewelry. So I was wondering if you guys had any thoughts about accessories that you would like to see the men wear or anything.
BLYTHE: It seems like men are already wearing quite a lot of jewelry, and wearing more jewelry than the men. Jonathan Horton for example, he tapes his wedding ring – so you can’t wear any jewelry but he doesn’t feel comfortable not wearing his wedding ring when he competes – so he puts a strip of tape around it. And I think he also does the same with I believe a Livestrong bracelet. And Danell Leyva, kind of the same thing. He’s got a couple bracelets that he wears. And I don’t know, I don’t have any restrictions about it one way or the other, but I think it’s kind of funny that the guys insist on keeping their jewelry on and they just tape around it.
JESSICA: I would like to see the Japanese team rock some more Tokyo style with a little… because right now they’re limited to their haircuts which are so fantastically fashionable. And I would like to see them do some sort of like harajuku styling on their tape jobs. So like on their ankle maybe they could use a big marker and mark it up like a superfly Adidas sneaker or something. You know get creative. I would like to see a little more fashion from the… I know it’s not jewelry but you know, from the Japanese. Like I feel like they could express themselves in that way.
UNCLE TIM: Right. And for our final question of this little code session, the men’s and the women’s code, they do not indicate how the coaches should dress. In trampoline I believe that the rules state that the coaches should be wearing tennis shoes. But as far as I have seen, there are no rules or credit points regarding the coaches. So what do you think the coaches should rock? Should they go to kind of an NCAA head coach type deal where the women are wearing high heels and skirts and jewelry or, what are your thoughts?
JESSICA: Well, first of all, I think whatever… if we can have an anti-Parkettes outfit rule, that would be fantastic. Because like when you have the coaches wearing exactly the same outfit as the gymnasts, it’s just not, that’s just not ok. I mean it’s not baseball. And in baseball it’s not ok too. I do not approve, I don’t approve in gymnastics. I think you should maybe have the same jacket as long as there are no sparkles as an adult. That’s ok. But the rest, you should be dressed to spot someone. Like that’s how I feel like you should be dressed. Nice, but ready for an emergency or to grab your gymnast out of the air. And in NCAA it kind of bothers me that the women wear heels. Like I know you’re supposed to dress up, but every time any of the female coaches walk onto the floor in their heels, I’m like hello, do you know how much all that foam costs
JESSICA: and you’re poking holes in the foam, which is going to lead to a break, which is going to lead to someone’s broken ankle and the end of their career. Like I just want to yell at them to take their freakin shoes off [sigh]
SPANNY: I always think it’s bizarre when you see… again like, if it’s a matching jacket, sure. But like, who am I thinking of, Kathryn Geddert maybe, who wears the full on warm up for the gym. And, it’s always a lot of time it’s the female coaches, they’re ex gymnasts, they’re petite women that are in great shape. But you know you do a double take and you’re like, “is that another gymnast? Oh no, it’s their female coach, and they are just dressed like a 16 year-old girl.” That’s always a little bizarre. But on the other side, if the guys chose, I maintain that if you force your gymnast to wear horrible awful WOGA National leotard, then you should be punished and wear the same thing. I think Valeri should wear a red WOGA bejeweled leotard contraption with a sparkly dog collar.
JESSICA: [laughs] That leo was awful.
UNCLE TIM: This will conclude our fashion segment of the code of points. Next week we look forward to a Spanny Tampson oath for the female gymnasts.
JESSICA: And now we’re going to bring you our Anna Li interview. And here it comes.
SPANNY: UCLA superstar, Olympic alternate, fan favorite. All these terms describe the one and only Anna Li. After qualifying to the elite ranks in 2004, Anna moved on to compete for the legendary UCLA Bruins, becoming an eight-time All-American gymnast while leading her team to a 2010 NCAA National Championship. Despite untold collegiate success, Anna committed to pursuing her dream further by re-qualifying to the elusive elite ranks. After a successful 2011 summer season, Anna was chosen to represent team USA in Japan for the World Championships. Despite suffering an abdominal injury, Anna grounded the young injury-laden squad and cheered them on their way to gold. The following summer, after multiple upgrades to her now-infamous uneven bar routine, Anna was once again selected to represent team USA in London as an Olympic alternate. Multiple other bar specialists were in contention for the position, but the selection committee found Anna’s experience, leadership, and skills best compliment the team needs. Anna, it’s an honor to have you here, welcome to the show.
ANNA: Thanks for having me.
JESSICA: The first thing we want to know about is Worlds. So, Worlds in Japan, you had an abdominal injury, then it seemed like you were a little better. Then before team finals we saw these routines that you were doing perfect routines in practice and hitting them. And you could see Geddert look like he was having a fit in the sidelines like with a giant sigh every time you hit your routine. But then you didn’t compete. Tell us what happened.
ANNA: Well I was having some problems with my abs. And so we were training a lot the entire time before we even got to the arena. And by the time we got to the arena, I had asked for a small break, which was they gave me two days off to rest to see if it got better. And at that point it did get a little bit better. So then I started training again before the competition started. And it was fine, it was so much better, but I guess they still didn’t want to chance it or use me yet. So I was training on the side just in case.
JESSICA: You, like to us and especially to Spanny, it looked like you really held that team together and were the mature athlete with the most experience on that team. Tell us about like kind of what before you guys marched out for the very first competition, what was happening on the sidelines in the wings.
ANNA: Before we all marched out it was actually a roller coaster ride for all the girls. We were all in line and everyone had different emotions going on. Everyone was very young. It was their first Worlds. It was pretty much all of our first Worlds except for Aly’s I believe. And we were in line getting ready to march out when there were emotions going everywhere. People were saying like, “oh no I want to puke” then we looked over and someone was crying, and then some of them were just staring into space. So I was kind of like running back in forth from the front of the line to the back of the line just like massaging shoulders and being like, “ok it’s ok it’s just another day at the gym,” and trying to make everyone calm because we had been so confident and prepared so well that I knew it was not going to be a problem. So it was kind of funny in the back of the line before we all marched out the first day.
JESSICA: [laughs] I can imagine, oh my God. Ok. And so you know so many times you have been like so close to like competing on the world stage and it’s been you know for whatever reason, you’ve been so close but you haven’t been able to compete internationally even though you’ve been at all these meets and selected for the team. How have you handled that frustration of being so close and then not being able to compete?
ANNA: It was definitely frustrating because I knew I had prepared for it and wanted to so badly. But at the same time, in all honesty, I never really expected for me to even reach you know being a part of the Olympic team and World team. So I think I just really was happy that I got to be a part of it and experience it, and I couldn’t have asked for more. I did really want to compete at Worlds because I knew I could do it, and for the Olympics I was preparing and was in the best shape of my life. And the routines were getting so easy, we were basically in robot mode. So it’s really frustrating at the same time but you want the best for your country. So and I knew that no matter what team they put up, we were going to win.
JESSICA: So tell us about what happened in between Classics in Chicago and Nationals. Because you had like a disappointing performance at Classics, and then it just seemed like your mental state completely changed between those two meets. Did you talk to someone? Did you have different coaching? Was it just an internal thing, you decided to change it around? What happened in between those two meets?
ANNA: Going into Classics was the first meet of the Olympic year. So I knew that during training at home I had been hitting every single routine and hadn’t missed any. I had been keeping track on a board at home. And so I was really prepared but I had also put a lot of pressure on myself. So when I missed at Classics I was very upset at myself. But then my UCLA coaches were at the competition and he knew that I was going to be upset at myself. Chris Waller actually called me while I was in my hotel room and told me that he was in the lobby and I had to go downstairs and talk to him right away. So I actually went down and had a nice talk with him, and he basically just put it all into perspective with how he remembered how I was a competitor at UCLA. So he talked to me about how I just loved to just have fun at the competitions and it was just gymnastics, the gymnastics part was easy for me. And I needed to just have fun and enjoy the experience. And so once I remembered that whole mentality, I just went back home and started training and thinking you know, this is fun, this is such a great opportunity for me, I’m competing the Olympic year and I actually have a shot at this. So this is just going to be a fun experience. So once I spoke to Chris Waller and talked to Miss Val, I just remembered everything that I learned from my college experience and combined it with my elite experience with my parents and it turned out really fun.
JESSICA: That’s awesome. I feel like that’s really what comes across on the floor with you. And I know I told you this before, but you know when I had my – so full disclosure, I had my review with my boss at work this year, and we spent like seriously 90% of the time talking about Anna. I’m not even kidding you guys. So my boss was like, “Oh yeah is she the one…” I know I’ve told Anna this story before, but my boss was like, “Oh is she the one who’s like the adult, the one with the degree, the one with the college degree? Yeah she seemed like the one that was like the neutral party. Like she treated everybody the same. LIke everybody was her teammate. And like no one else seemed to really interact, but she was interacting with everybody.” And I was like, “Yes! That’s totally Anna. That’s why we love her. That’s why she stands out to the fans.” Do you feel like that? I mean you bring something to the elite scene that I think a lot of people appreciate. Do you feel like that’s part of why you’ve been so successful in your elite run this time as opposed to before college?
ANNA: I definitely have learned a lot after college. And I know for a fact that it helped me get to where I am today. And I think that it was just me enjoying the whole experience. Miss Val and everyone taught me to just enjoy the moment, stay in the moment, and have no regrets in my life. And I knew in the back of my mind the whole time at UCLA that I wanted to continue doing elite but I wasn’t sure. So when I actually decided I wanted to do elite again, I gave it my absolute all and took everything that they taught me and used it. And so I’m so excited that this is where I am today and I actually did it and I have no regrets at all.
JESSICA: Awesome. One of the things I noticed when I watched the Olympics was so many of the gymnasts said, “oh now it’s all worth it, now that I’m here it’s worth it.” Like and I felt like that too especially when I was watching Orozco. And I just felt like my heart was breaking for him because I feel like they put so much pressure on themselves. But with you it seems like you were enjoying the experience and you were putting it in that mindset of this process is worth it and if I just focus on the outcome then I’m not going to be happy. Is that true? Is that how you look at it?
ANNA: When I was younger, that’s exactly how I looked at it. I remember sitting in Miss Val’s office telling them you know, “I worked so hard at my first round of elite before college and I didn’t get the outcomes I wanted.” And I really felt upset about myself like I accomplished absolutely nothing. And Miss Val and Chris had told me you know, “You actually accomplished so much.” And I told them, “everyone tells me that but I don’t feel like I did.” Like I never made the Olympics in 2004 and 2008 I wasn’t going to be able to do it so I felt like I had failed. But it wasn’t until toward the end of my college experience when I learned that it was the process that made me feel like I had no regrets, no matter what the outcome was. And I mean I used that in 2010 when we won NCAA, I was just going to give everything my all, every single day in training, so I knew at the end of the day, no matter what the outcome was, I wasn’t going to have regrets. I knew that I became the best of what I was capable of being, and that was like success to me. And that’s also John Wooden’s quote that I basically have lived my life all of. And it’s basically how I felt the whole entire time from 2010, 11, and 12. And the outcomes have turned out even better for me.
JESSICA: Let’s talk about some skills. Ok now I’ve heard that with the Rybalko, your mom was like, “you’re crazy, do not do this,” and your dad, being the trickster wildman that he is was all for it. Tell us about the process of learning this skill, and also your parents’ reactions. Because I understand they were totally different.
ANNA: Well I remember my dad, he had been thinking about how to put my routine together with bonuses and connections. And he told me one day at the gym, he said, “you need to learn this skill.” And I had no idea what it was. He was like, “the boys all do it.” And I was like, “ok do any of the girls do it?” And he said no. So I was kind of excited about that because I was like, “ok what do I have to do?” And he was trying to explain it and I didn’t really understand it. So he started pulling up videos and he told me who had a good one and who to watch. And I remember my mom saying, “it’s not possible, she’s going to peel, the bar is different, she has a low bar, you can’t do it.” So after I watched a couple videos I was like, “ok I think I could possibly get this.” And so I spent the majority of the time working on that one skill, the whole beginning of before we put the routine together, because he said it was the most important skill I needed to get. And I wasn’t used to having my dad spot me on much again because I’m older and taller than he is and so I was a little bit nervous. But he was up on the high blocks and he was spotting me. And at first I started chucking it myself, but the technique wasn’t right. And the whole time my mom was just saying, “it’s not going to work, it’s not going to work.” And my dad was just like, “be quiet I know she can do it, it’s going to work it’s really easy.” And so finally when I started getting it, it was actually really exciting because no one had done it, no one even knew what it was. It was like a release with twisting and then I had to do a yaeger out of it. So it actually a really fun process to get and my mom just thought me and my dad were both crazy.
JESSICA: What happened when you showed up at camp with this? Like what did Marta say and what did the other coaches say?
ANNA: They were all very surprised I think at first, because no one had seen it done before. And most of the coaches, I know like Al Fong was always saying how cool it was and how beautifully it was done and you know, he was really supportive of it. I mean I didn’t really pay attention to what everyone was saying, I was just trying to do my routines and get out of the training after. But basically they all thought it was really cool and the connections were great, they just didn’t know about how it was going to be judged because no one had done it before.
JESSICA: And so what did Marta say? Like did she feel like it was judged fairly? Like did she think… I mean it seems like she really believed in the skill because she didn’t tell you to take it out. What did she say about it?
ANNA: Well it’s a release with twisting, so basically it’s almost impossible – well it is impossible – to finish in a handstand like a regular pirouetting skill since you let go of the bar. So they knew that, but I think just because of the pirouetting and people didn’t know exactly, hadn’t seen it done before, that they decided it was just going to get deducted automatically. So at that point Marta just said, “clean up the rest of your routine so that your execution is only that skill.” So after that I went home and really focused hard on cleaning up the rest of my routine and making the rest of it all in handstand and cleaning up the rest of the skills that I had. But other than that, I mean we kept it, it’s different, no one else does it, and I think it puts a little flare into a different bar routine.
SPANNY: We rarely see pictures of the team with their families or fans during the meet. How much contact are you allowed with the outside world during a meet? Or at Worlds or the Olympics?
ANNA: We are actually not really allowed to be around our families and friends that much. I actually had friends that flew to Japan when I made the world team, and I felt so bad because I couldn’t really hang out with them. I saw them in the lobby for a quick second and got to say hi to them, and I gave them a hug but then I had to leave. And so they just really wanted us to stay focused on the competition and what the man job was. So it’s mainly just a business trip you know. And we had to just stay in our hotel room most… pretty much the whole time was either the hotel rooms, the training halls, and the competition areas. And besides that, that’s all we got to do. [laughs] But family and friends could come, but we couldn’t really hang out with them.
SPANNY: Do you feel that that helped you focus? Or maybe for the younger members it might help them focus but since you’re a little older you’re able to handle performing but also having friends and family there?
ANNA: I think it actually helps everyone no matter what to have their family and friends there with them supporting them, because that’s been everyone’s support system their entire life. But I also do understand Marta and the national staff’s point of view of staying focused because it is a really big competition and they want the best outcome possible. So I understand both aspects of it, but maybe not to the extent of not even really being able to say hi [laughs[
SPANNY: Right. Alright we’re going to talk about London, or England. Where did you train in England, and what was that experience like?
ANNA: I trained in Birmingham with the other three replacement athletes. And it was actually a lot of fun. It was only three of us so the training was actually a little intense because it was so quick paced because there was only three of us. But at the hotel that we stayed at, we stayed with the US Track and Field team because that was their first stop in training before they went to the Olympic Village. And so we got to be with the Track and Field team and in the training room that they had set up in the hotel, we all just got to hang out a little bit every day. So it was actually a lot of fun. And we got to walk around a lot in Birmingham too.
SPANNY: It kind of looked like you guys got to do more than the other five girls, given that you just had training then you had other extra time to walk around or shop, I don’t know.
ANNA: Yeah in between we got to walk around. And we’d usually walk to lunch or somewhere so it was pretty nice we got to get out [laughs]
SPANNY: Right. How do you keep yourselves entertained in the hotel rooms you know during Worlds or the Olympics?
ANNA: Well for Worlds I was with Gabby, and we had a lot of fun just hanging out in the hotel room. And I think it’s possibly because we were so bored that we just became delusional in the room. But it was just a lot of fun. We played music, we danced, made videos, we took lots of pictures, and basically just being goofy. And for the Olympics in Birmingham we got to walk around a lot, so most of the time we either walked around a little bit or we even caught the new Dark Knight movie, so we even went to a movie theater too. But other than that I was just back in the hotel sleeping for the most part because the training was pretty brutal.
SPANNY: Training in Birmingham, let’s talk about that for a second. How did your injury occur?
ANNA: I was on bars. And it was the second workout of the day, and I had already finished my bar routine. And it was actually the best bar routines I had done the entire trip. It was really smooth and a lot better than what had been the other days even though we still did the routines. But I finished so quickly and my mom basically just said, “You know take one more turn and we can be done.” And I was like, “Ok, I’ll just go do an extra dismount.” And I went up and did, I went giant giant and I was going to do my layout full out, and I peeled at the bottom. And basically landed on my back but higher up, pretty much my neck with my feet over my head and my chin in my chest. And usually my first instinct when I’m injured or right away I stand up, but I knew there was no way I could get up. I just laid there and immediate pain to my neck. And I just remember everyone standing around me and eventually I was put on a stretch board and taken to the hospital. But it was a lot of emotional damage versus like physical damage to me at that point.
SPANNY: Right. That sounds absolutely terrifying.
SPANNY: Are you or were you satisfied with the treatment you received overseas?
ANNA: Well we were all expecting the Gymnova equipment we had been training on. Even like at Classics and Visas we had the Gymnova bars because that’s what the Olympics was, the equipment that they had. But when we got there, the equipment was red, like it probably looked like Gymnova equipment, but it was called… I don’t know, it was something else. And it was totally different. We all had to do some big adjustments. Me and Sarah on the balance beam, they were really slippery [laughs] and we still had to get our routines done so we had been adjusting to it. And at that point when I had done my routine or when I peeled on my dismount I was already done with my routine. But the equipment was definitely different.
SPANNY: For elite, are you going to continue training elite for next year?
ANNA: I actually don’t have a definite answer yet. I’m kind of just seeing how my neck is right now, and I guess we’ll just see from there if I need a fusion in my neck to be able to be more active or not. Whether or not I do continue to train elite again, if I need a fusion anyway, I’ll probably still get that done first.
SPANNY: A couple of people have asked us about this, so just given let’s say you know you keep training, whether or not you compete elite, tell us about the Kovacs. Is that something you’re working on?
ANNA: Well I wanted to do that right when I got home, but I couldn’t because of my neck. But that is definitely something that I still want to do. That’s been one of my goals that I wanted to do. So I think for sure I will eventually – whether I can soon or later – definitely get the Kovacs and try and play around with it.
SPANNY: I so hope you do. I need that to be called the Li and my life will be complete.
ANNA: [laughs] Yeah
JESSICA: Ok we have a couple more questions but are you ok with sticking around a little bit? Or do you have to run for tour stuff?
ANNA: Nope I still have time.
JESSICA: Ok cool. Alright, so tell us about your role on the tour, and what you’re doing on tour and how it’s been so far.
ANNA: On tour I was actually doing a little bit of gymnastics. And then mainly it was dancing too. And we have a professional choreographer, Jermaine, and he is amazing. And he basically worked with all of us. And I didn’t realize how quickly I could pick up on other types of dances, even hip hop and lyrical stuff. So I actually had a blast when we were first putting together the routines and the dance numbers. So I was actually having a lot of fun and I got to do a little bit of stuff. I was actually on high bar doing stuff in the finale of the first couple of shows, but then USAG told me not to go upside down. So I had to take it out for now, and hopefully I’ll be able to do more toward the end of the tour. But for right now I’m basically doing a lot of dance in the show.
JESSICA: Cool. And we love your dance so we’re very pleased about that. What is your favorite, and then what is the worst tour costume that you have to wear? Or anyone else has to wear?
ANNA: My favorite.. actually my favorite is probably the Party Rock just because it’s so much fun being all goofy and we get to put our hair all crazy. But I guess on a prettier note I like the lyrical dress, which is the red one. And the ugliest one for me is… it’s only because we’re helping holding the silks for beam, but it’s basically this long sleeve and pants, it’s like a onesies. And it’s white. So, I mean we have a name for the costume…
ANNA: …but I’m not sure if it’s appropriate to share or not. [laughs]
JESSICA: Are you sure?
SPANNY: Call it the onesie
ANNA: I mean, ok. Basically we call it the sperm costume, because…
ANNA: And then like yesterday at this point in the show we basically have it all down so we just make eachother laugh in every single number that we’re in. And basically at the end of the show, well after that number on beam I ran out like a sperm.
SPANNY: Like on The Simpsons when he does the arms behind him. Sperm dance.
ANNA: Yeah [laughs]
SPANNY: Ok good
ANNA: Yeah [laughs]
JESSICA: Oh my God [laughs]
ANNA: Basically after that number we run around in the back and yeah, it’s pretty funny.
JESSICA: So let’s see. If there was a gymnast who was level 9 or level 10 and they were considering doing elite. And let’s say they are really happy and they enjoy, they enjoy their competition life but they’re thinking about doing elite. What kind of advice would you give them in terms of what to anticipate and how to make that, you know know if elite is right for you?
ANNA: I definitely remember that stage before. And I think if you were considering elite, then I think you should just try it. I I mean know girls at my gym back at home that are level 10s and some of them are even a little bit older, they’re like 14 and 15. And they still want to try elite. And I think it’s great because you can do pre elite and you can learn a lot of skills. And whether you really enjoy doing the elite world and being very committed and putting that time into it, then you could go that route and continue doing elite. And if not, I think you’d be a super strong level 10, and that’s even more fun as a level 10 going to level 10 nationals and winning everything.
JESSICA: Nice. Speaking of Legacy Elite, one of our listeners asked if there’s any new up and comers that people should look out for from your gym at home.
ANNA: Well we have a couple girls that are playing around with elite, like some of the strong level 10s want to try elite. But we also have some young ones that we’re training as well. So it might be a little while till might see some, but we have some girls that did Hopes and we have some really strong little TOPs girls as well.
JESSICA: Any names you want to throw out there that we should look for?
ANNA: Well Wesley Stevenson, she did Hopes, but she was injured last year because she tore her hamstring but she’s back in this year. So I know she’s one that was part of, she went to Classics and competed with the Hopes the year before. And then we have little Gabby Perea, she’s one of our TOPs girls. And then we have a couple younger ones too as well that are training with her too. So we have a little group. And I love training with the level 10 group that we have, that’s who I train with. And basically my group girls know who they are.
JESSICA: Cool. So will we be seeing you doing anything professionally, if you don’t go back to elite will we see you in any commercials or maybe dancing or on a television show that has dancing on it perhaps?
ANNA: If I decide not to train anymore, I think my next new goal and passion would be dancing. Since this tour I realized that I really like dancing. So I think I want to start taking some classes at studios and possibly I mean it would be awesome to be on So you Think You Can Dance. But I would love to do stunt work too and our commercials in LA as well, so all those things are still options.
JESSICA: Cool. So tell us about your parents’ reaction to when you made the team in San Jose and what it meant for them.
ANNA: Well I remember sitting in that room before they announced the names, and I was really excited because I knew that I did my best. Like my absolute best at Olympic Trials. So I was telling my mom before we walked into the room, I said, “Mom, I know I just said I wanted to have fun here, but I really want to go to London now.” And she was like, “ I know Anna but you did your best. You can’t expect to be named to that team. All these girls are really strong, you just never know. So just be happy that you competed and you did well.” And I was like, “Ok I know.” But deep down inside I was saying, “I really want to make the team.” [laughs] And so sitting in the room once they called my name, I was just in shock. I mean i looked around at my parents and they just had this big smile on their face and everything just seemed like a blur all the sudden. And I ran out on the floor and the whole fireworks, not fireworks, but confetti falling down. And I think I was just in my own world and couldn’t believe that I was actually named to be a part of the team. And so after we were in the hotel celebrating with friends and family that came to watch. And basically my dad was just so happy and he was telling everyone how he no longer felt bad for leaving me. Because when he was asked to help the Chinese team in 2008. He basically left our whole entire family for four years to help prepare the Chinese team. And at that time when he left, it was probably my strongest time as an elite before I went to college. It was like 2005-6. And he wasn’t there for it. And basically I didn’t compete in 2006 and I just went to UCLA. So I think in the back of his mind he felt bad because I felt like he had given up on me and just left. And so he I even think had that feeling as well. And so when he came back and told me and after Olympic trials he was like, “You know what, this is all worth it. Everything is worth it. I came back and I basically helped you get here and I don’t have any more regrets anymore either for leaving.”
JESSICA: Speaking of your dad, one of the things that we noticed is that it seems like some gymnasts, especially this happens to the male gymnasts, they get so much stronger as they get older. And you can see that’s really evident on the bars events, upper body events. And we noticed that that seems like it’s happening with you too. It seems like the older you get the stronger and more consistent you get. Do you feel like you’re stronger and you have that extra strength now that you’re older?
ANNA: Most definitely. Which it was really weird because everyone jokes around how I’m like a male gymnast. Because usually for girls their peak is like 15 before they hit puberty, but I was so weak before that after I was starting to gain muscle. So even throughout muscle I realized, “Wow, i’m actually getting stronger than I was before.” Instead of decreasing the gymnastics level after hitting puberty and going to college. And so when I moved back home I was learning all new skills. And my entire bar routine was all brand new skills that I put together. So it was a little nerve-wracking because I didn’t have as much confidence after because it was a completely new routine, all new skills, all new connections. But it was so amazing to see how I was still improving. And even my mom goes, “You’re still improving and that is so crazy.” They said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and here I am competing brand new skills. I did a double back off beam a couple times and that was just crazy too.
JESSICA: Spanny maintains that you are the reason for Gabby’s newfound consistency and confidence. And so we want to know how did you take her from wobbles to gold?
ANNA: [laughs] well I don’t want to take the credit for all of Gabby’s accomplishments. She works so hard and she works so well with Chow. And so I know that she deserves winning and she worked so hard for it. But I mean I think at Worlds we definitely bonded a lot. She was very nervous before and worried about what to do and how the competition was going. So I think I just helped her stay calm and relaxed and pretty much just enjoy the competition. And just reminded her that it was just gymnastics and pretend that it was just training. So I’m not too sure exactly how well I helped her, but I tried to just keep everyone calm, especially at Worlds.
SPANNY: So you guys are roommates now on the tour, you were roommates at Worlds. Is this by choice? Or is that who they just put you together because you guys get along really well?
ANNA: At Worlds I think they just put us together, I actually don’t know why. But they put us together at Worlds. And then at Olympic Trials they told us we were rooming with different people. And so when I walked into the room I was expecting to see someone else. But when I walked in I saw Gabby. So we were actually really excited because someone must have switched the rooms up and put me and Gabby together for Olympic Trials too. So we were really excited about that. And so for rooming with the tour, I think Gabby requested to room with me this time. We’ve been together every time that she’s been around for the tour. She travels a lot right now. but for the most part we’re rooming together.
SPANNY: Do you find – again Gabby’s just one example of how your leadership helps – do you think the National Team Coaches and even parents appreciate the effect that I believe you have on the other athletes?
ANNA: I actually have no idea. I think everyone else is just really focused on just the gymnastics part of it and not really what happens outside of gymnastics. So I mean I feel like it’s only my fans and hearing from you guys that have told me, “Oh you’ve made an impact on Gabby and some of the other girls and the team dynamic.” But other than that, I don’t really think anyone else has really said much. I think I heard John Geddert mention something about me before with the team. But other than that, not really.
SPANNY: I hope they do eventually. I think, again as a complete side watcher fan, to me it seems so obvious. So I hope that eventually you know they appreciate having an older experienced gymnast kind of help out and lead the way.
ANNA: Yeah [laughs]. Yeah well thank you.
SPANNY: You’re welcome.
JESSICA: One very important topic we have to cover: are there any budding romances on the tour that you want to talk about? You don’t have to tell us any names, but you know.
ANNA: Budding romances. You know most of the boys have girlfriends or Horton is married and Legendre’s engaged so a lot of us are just having a good time. I don’t really see a budding romances thought, yet at least [laughs]
ANNA: But we are all having a lot of fun on the tour and we were just in Las Vegas. And we definitely had fun in Las Vegas and in San Diego because those stops we were there for three days on our break before the tour started on the weekend.
JESSICA: And I saw your tweet after going to see Mystere that you want to do Cirque now. So is that a momentary wish, or are you thinking about that?
ANNA: I thought about it before, but I wasn’t too sure. But after watching it, it looked like so much fun and more things that I could learn because of trapeze and some of the things that just looked like a bar dismount. So I was thinking how fun would that be to learn some new things. So that’s definitely something else I was considering. But I mean it all still depends on how my neck is. And once I find out what I have to do to heal my neck then I’ll probably start making decisions. But Cirque definitely looks like a lot of fun. And it’s a performance and I could learn some new things.
JESSICA: Awesome. We would love to see you. Commercials, So You Think You Can Dance, and Cirque. I think… oh and World Championships next year. Just show up on bars. And then you could go to Cirque and be in commercials. I mean we can put our wishlist for you.
ANNA: [laughs] Ok if I could do all of those at once I would love to.
JESSICA: [laughs] Totally. Ok so final question. What is your most embarrassing gymnastics moment?
ANNA: Most embarrassing… I think I can’t remember anything recent, like when I was older. But when I was younger I knew that I completely forgot my beam routine, I think in level 5. And I just stood there and I basically stood on the beam and started throwing a fit, and my mom had to carry me off the beam. [laughs] Because I wouldn’t get off the beam. I was just standing there. And I slapped my legs really loud because I couldn’t remember what was next. And I think my parents were really embarrassed that I was having a tantrum in the middle of a competition on beam.
JESSICA: Oh my God [laughs
JESSICA: If there is video of that, we must find it
ANNA: I mean I can see if they have a video of it, but I mean it’s so old and yeah. I remember I got in a lot of trouble and I was carried off the beam.
JESSICA: So tell us on Twitter what you thought of that interview, what you think, if you have any follow up questions. Yeah let us know, we love to hear from you guys on Twitter and Facebook and on the site about what you think of the interviews. And now Spanny I believe has some listener feedback and questions for us.
SPANNY: I do. These are all from Twitter so far. So we do see all of your comments and we will try to respond to them accordingly. If you send us suggestions for topics you’d like us to discuss, because even we run out of ideas sometimes. We do have a few suggestions. Amy @teruterubuozu says “It might be too controversial, but I’d an enjoy an episode focusing on USA Gymnastics, the organizations, and it’s execs, not athletes” which I agree would be a very fascinating topic. And we’ve actually kind of talked about it that we might get into that, with a few interviews, do our research. But yeah because I think everybody has an opinion about the way the organization is run. And it would be great to actually get the details and not the internet ramblings about how bad Marta is or whatever people think. Great topic idea. Now, Ryno56 @Ryno5656 says, “Future topic: why no out Olympicans in gymnasts even once retired? Josh Dixon can’t be the only gay American gymnast.” Another fabulous topic. Would love if we had the resources or the contacts to really get into that. I don’t think having a discussion about being comfortably [inaudible] is ever bad. Yeah that’s definitely something we would like to talk about. We’ve talked about talking about.
JESSICA: I just want to add to that that if anybody has contacts or if you are an out gymnast, or you are a gym owner, or you’re an FIG official, or if you’re a USAG official and you’re out and want to talk about what it’s been like for you and let other gymnasts know that they’re not alone and that they have someone, an ally in the gymnastic community, contact us. Because we would love to host a panel discussion on this on this show.
SPANNY: We can always keep it anonymous too. We understand that there might be some fears. And you know if you’re currently competing, about scoring. I don’t know. Alright, couple of nice comments. At least I thought they were nice. Cheyenne Hanson @legitimatechey says, “listening to GymCastic at school makes the day go by 10x faster. #entertained.” Cheyenne thank you. That’s awesome. I wish I went to a school where I could have done that. Ninja Editor @ninjaeditor “podcast #2, the only bright spot in a boring day. Looking forward to next week.” Thank you Ninja Editor. Hope your day gets better. You have anything you want to say to us, whether it’s important or not important, let us know. On Facebook, Twitter email, carrier pigeon, I don’t know. However you like, let us know.
JESSICA: Thanks Spanny. Next week we have an interview with Louis Smith. He’s going to tell us what it’s like to be on the Dancing With the Stars, the English version. And he’ll tell us about if he has the motivation to keep going to Rio or not, and a little bit about fashion and who he thinks are the best dressed in gymnastics. And remember you can always subscribe on iTunes. You can find us at gymncastic.com. You can find us on Twitter @gymcastic or on Facebook. We love your feedback. And until next week I am Jessica O’Beirne from Masters-Gymnastics.com
BLYTHE: Blythe Lawrence from the Gymnastics Examiner
SPANNY: Spanny Tampson from Spanny’s Big Fake Smile
UNCLE TIM: And Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym
JESSICA: See you next week!