Shannon Miller recalls 1996 Olympic podium thoughts in book excerpt

Shannon Miller

Seven-time Olympic medalist Shannon Miller looked back on her gymnastics career in “It’s Not About Perfect: Competing for My Country and Fighting for My Life,” her recently released book.

In a provided excerpt, Miller goes back to her final Olympic competition, the Atlanta balance beam final on July 29, 1996.

Though Miller helped lead the U.S. team to gold in Atlanta, she was disappointed to finish eighth in both the all-around and vault finals, competing with an injured wrist.

In front of 40,000 people in the Georgia Dome, Miller was so cognizant in her final event as she performed on beam that she heard papers shuffling, nervous coughs and a gentleman on the left side of the arena yell, “Hey, buddy, shut your flash off!” to a photographer.

She hit her routine for a 9.862, taking the lead with four women still to perform, a score she couldn’t remember when a stranger quizzed her at an airport shortly after the Olympics. No other gymnast could beat her score, including the Olympic all-around champion Lilia Podkopayeva of Ukraine who followed Miller in the start order.

Miller’s final Olympic routine earned the first individual Olympic gold medal of her career and seventh total Olympic medal. She’s the most decorated U.S. Olympic gymnast of all time.

Here were her thoughts after receiving her gold medal, from “It’s Not About Perfect:”

As I stood on the podium, watching the American flag being raised, I thought about the people who had helped get me there, my team. You don’t land a gold medal alone; success is always a team effort. I thought of my parents, whose support of me never wavered. I thought of my coaches Steve and Peggy, who had stuck with me and were so patient with me—a young, determined, often frustrated control freak—for all of those years. Steve was often the one in the limelight but Peggy was also crucial to my success as a gymnast and in life. I also thought about how I had not retired after the 1992 Olympics and continued gymnastics simply because I loved the sport and the part it played in my life. I thought of how I trained up to eight hours a day with the thought of competing in an Olympics in my own country. I thought of how the hand specialist advised that I quit gymnastics rather than try for another Olympics. I thought about my painful wrist, which wouldn’t improve for years.

I also thought of how skeptical people were about my chances in Atlanta because I had grown six inches, gained thirty pounds, and aged four years. My mind was flooded with all the bad falls and disappointments and doubt. I thought of how important it was that I continued to get back up after each and every fall, and to move forward after every setback.

What was the story of that girl on the podium? Maybe it was that you cannot succeed if you don’t dare to try. That you must keep trying even after you fall on your backside. And that you should never let others decide how much you can achieve. Dream big, work hard, and don’t set limits on what you could do or be.

I had success because I didn’t know that I wasn’t supposed to. It didn’t matter that I was a girl or that I was small or that I was reserved. It didn’t matter that my parents didn’t have infinite resources. It wasn’t about perfect; it was about making the full effort. It was about setting goals and steadfastly refusing to be derailed. Keep passion alive. Many people don’t realize how strong they truly are until they are challenged. My sport did that for me. Gymnastics allowed me to see what I was made of. And when I had doubts or faced obstacles, it always reminded me.

*Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Miller competed in the floor exercise final at the Atlanta Olympics.

2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

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At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Having turned 22 on Wednesday, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, is her top remaining challenger in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the highest-seeded American man or woman, was eliminated in the third round. No. 4 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, who has three wins over Swiatek this year, withdrew before her third-round match due to illness.

No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, is the top hope to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

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2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

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2023 French Open men’s singles draw, scores

French Open Men's Draw
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The French Open men’s singles draw is missing injured 14-time champion Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2004, leaving the Coupe des Mousquetaires ripe for the taking.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Novak Djokovic is not only bidding for a third crown at Roland Garros, but also to lift a 23rd Grand Slam singles trophy to break his tie with Nadal for the most in men’s history.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Women’s Draw

But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.

Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.

Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.

Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).

All of the American men lost before the fourth round. The last U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals was Andre Agassi in 2003.

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2023 French Open Men’s Singles Draw

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