Where Are They Now? We Follow up With Famous Gymnasts of the Past

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Where Are They Now?

Letters to a Young Gymnast, by Nadia Comaneci
A book written by gymnast Nadia Comaneci.

They're in the spotlight, making world records and amazing the audience. Then they retire.

Ever wonder what happened to those famous gymnasts after they stop competing? Some stay involved in the sport. Others take to acting or book-writing.  

Here's the scoop on what happened to some of your favorite gymnast stars of the past.

02
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Olga Korbut

Olga Korbut
Olga Korbut. Ken Levine/AllSport/Getty Images

Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut became world-famous for her amazing acrobatics at the 1972 Olympics. She pioneered a back flip off the high bar and was among the first to do a back tuck on beam. She won both beam and floor and took second on uneven bars.

She became the first gymnast to be named to the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

Korbut married Leonid Bortkevich in 1978, and the couple had a son, Richard, in 1979. She immigrated to the United States in 1991 and became an American citizen in 2000.

She now lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., and is still involved with the sport, both through coaching and commentary. 

In 2002, she appeared on "Celebrity Boxing" (she won). 

03
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Nadia Comaneci

Nadia Comaneci
Nadia Comaneci (Romania) as a young gymnast in 1980, and as an adult. John Hayes/Tony Duffy/Allsport/Getty Images

Perhaps the most famous gymnast of all time, Romanian Nadia Comăneci, scored the first perfect 10.0 in Olympic history, then continued to dominate the 1976 Olympic Games with seven total 10.0s and three gold medals, including the women's all-around.

Nadia Comăneci defected from Romania in 1989 and married American Olympic gymnast Bart Conner in 1996. They have one child, Dylan, born in 2006. The couple co-own the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy and are also involved with International Gymnast magazine, Perfect 10 Productions, Inc. (television production) and Grips, Etc. (gymnastics supplies). In 2008, Comăneci appeared on Donald Trump's "The Celebrity Apprentice" and was fired on the second episode.

Today, she is a dual citizen of the United States and Romania. 

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Bart Conner

Bart Conner
Bart Conner. John Hayes/Getty Images/Tony Duffy

Bart Conner was a member of three U.S. Olympic teams —1976, 1980 and 1984 — although the United States boycotted the Moscow Olympics in 1980, so Conner did not get a chance to compete that year.

He won two golds at the 1984 Olympics — one with the team and one individually on the parallel bars.

Conner married Romanian gymnastics star Nadia Comaneci in 1996, and is the father of a child, Dylan. Conner and Comaneci run a TV production company and stay involved with the sport through their gymnastics supplies business and their gymnastics academy. 

Conner has played himself in two gymnastics movies: ​​"Stick It" and "Peaceful Warrior."

He has also co-written a book with Paul Ziert called "Winning the Gold."

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Mary Lou Retton

Mary Lou Retton
Mary Lou Retton. Steve Powell/Getty Images/Charley Gallay

Mary Lou Retton became a household name in the United States with one perfectly stuck vault in 1984. It helped her win the Olympic all-around title, a feat no American had ever accomplished.

She was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. 


Retton married a former University of Texas quarterback, Shannon Kelley, in December of 1990. The couple has four girls: Shayla (born 1995), McKenna (born 1997), Skyla (born 2000) and Emma (born 2002).

Retton has had success as a motivational speaker and played herself in roles in the movies "Scrooged" and "Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult." She has also been in several commercials and endorsements; she was the first female athlete to land a picture on a box of Wheaties cereal. 

She and Kelley created the PBS show "Mary Lou's Flip Flop Shop" in 2001. Retton was the star of the show, which was designed to encourage kids to believe in themselves. 

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Mitch Gaylord

Mitch Gaylord
Mitch Gaylord. Sebastian Artz/Getty Images/Tony Duffy

Mitch Gaylord was a member of the 1984 U.S. men's Olympic team — the first American gymnastics team to win Olympic gold. He also won a silver on vault in 1984 and two bronze medals on the parallel bars and rings.

In 1986, Gaylord starred in the movie "American Anthem" with actress Janet Jones. He was also the stunt double for Chris O'Donnell in "Batman Forever" in 1995 and has appeared in commercials for Levi's, Diet Coke, Nike and Vidal Sassoon.

Gaylord founded Gold Medal Fitness and the Melt it Off With Mitch workout program in 2007. He is married to Valentina Agius and resides in Fort Worth, Texas, with their two children. He was previously married to Playboy model and actress Deborah Driggs. The had three kids together.

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Kim Zmeskal

Kim Zmeskal
Kim Zmeskal. Tim de Frisco/Allsport/Getty Images/Jim McIsaac

In 1991, Kim Zmeskal became the first American woman to win world all-around champion. She was also the U.S. national champion in the senior division three years in a row from 1990 to 1992.

In 2000, Zmeskal married gymnastics coach Chris Burdette (she met him during a clinic). The two own and coach at Texas Dreams Gymnastics in Coppell, Texas. The Burdettes have three children: Robert (born in 2005), Koda (born in 2006) and Riven (born in 2010). 

In 2012, Zmeskal was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. 

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Shannon Miller

(Famous Gymnasts of the Past) Shannon Miller. (Photo at left) © Paul Hawthorne / Getty Images; (Photo at right) © Tony Duffy / Getty Images

Shannon Miller won the most medals of any U.S. athlete at the 1992 Olympics (three bronze, two silver), then followed it up with two golds at the 1996 games.

Miller graduated from Boston College law school in 2007 and remained involved in gymnastics with her own show "Gymnastics 360° with Shannon Miller," on the Comcast Network. She has also done commentary for MSNBC and NBC HDTV and authored a book called "Winning Every Day."

She also entered a business partnership with a line of dietary supplements and launched Shannon Miller Lifestyle: Health and Fitness for Women, as well a foundation to help fight childhood obesity.

Miller married lawyer and ophthalmologist Chris Phillips in 1999, but the pair divorced seven years later. Miller re-married in 2007, to John Falconetti, president of Drummond Press, a printing company. She has two children. 

Miller was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011, but it was cleared after chemotherapy treatment.

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Dominique Moceanu

Gymnastics Photo of 1996 Olympic Gymnast Dominique Moceanu
Dominique Moceanu as a young gymnast, and with husband Mike Canales and daughter Carmen. Dominique Moceanu/Mike Powell/Getty Images

At 13, Dominique Moceanu became the youngest U.S. senior national champion ever, and one year later, Moceanu was the youngest member of the 1996 Olympic team that won gold. She went on to win the all-around at the 1998 Goodwill Games but retired before the 2000 Olympic Trials due to knee problems.

On Nov. 4, 2006, Moceanu married former Ohio State gymnast Michael Canales. Their first child, Carmen Noel Canales, was born on Christmas day 2007 and their second, Vincent Michael Canales, on March 13, 2009.

Moceanu is currently coaching gymnastics and graduated from business management school. Canales works as a foot and ankle surgeon.

Moceanu also discovered that her sister was Jennifer Bricker, an acrobat and aerialist who was born without legs and given up for adoption.

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Carly Patterson

Carly Patterson
Carly Patterson. Stuart Hannagan/Getty Images/Jim McIsaac

Carly Patterson became the second American woman to win Olympic gold in the all-around in 2004.

Patterson retired shortly after the Athens Games to focus on launching a singing career. She appeared on the Fox show "Celebrity Duets" and released her first single, "Temporary Life (Ordinary Girl)" in March 2008. Her debut album, "Back to the Beginning," was released by Musicmind Records on August 25, 2009.

She stays involved with gymnastics through speaking and appearances. She released a biography in 2006. 

Patterson also appeared on the show "Hollywood at Home" and has had various high-profile sponsorships. 

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Deusen, Amy Van. "Where Are They Now? We Follow up With Famous Gymnasts of the Past." ThoughtCo, Aug. 23, 2017, thoughtco.com/gallery-gymnastics-biographies-4123243. Deusen, Amy Van. (2017, August 23). Where Are They Now? We Follow up With Famous Gymnasts of the Past. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/gallery-gymnastics-biographies-4123243 Deusen, Amy Van. "Where Are They Now? We Follow up With Famous Gymnasts of the Past." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/gallery-gymnastics-biographies-4123243 (accessed November 21, 2017).