9 Things to Know About Gymnast Shannon Miller

Miller was the queen of the gym in the '90s

Gymnast Shannon Miller competes at the 1993 World Gymnastics Championships
Shannon Miller at the 1993 worlds. © Chris Cole / Getty Images

Shannon Miller dominated gymnastics the early to mid-'90s, winning seven Olympic medals and nine world championship medals, including two consecutive world all-around titles. She's one of the most decorated American gymnasts in history, second only to Simone Biles.

Here are nine more interesting facts about Miller: 

1. She Was an Impressive Rookie

Miller's first world championships appearance was in 1991, at age 14.

She excelled, helping the young American team (Kim Zmeskal, Kerri Strug, Betty Okino, Michelle Campi and Hilary Grivich) to a team silver — the highest U.S. finish in history at that time.

Individually, Miller tied for the silver (with eventual 1992 Olympic all-around champion Tatiana Gutsu) on the bars. After worlds, many gymnasts and fans regarded Miller as one of the major Olympic contenders for the first time.

S ee for yourself: Watch Miller on the bars here.

2. She Had a Freak Injury — and a Miraculous Comeback

In March of 1992, Miller dislocated her elbow in a training accident on the bars. She underwent emergency surgery and a screw was inserted in her elbow. Though she was unable to compete in the optional portion of the U.S. nationals that year, she was healthy enough to do the compulsories. She took first in the compulsories, then won the 1992 Olympic Trials in June, this time competing in both compulsories and optionals.

3. A Miller-Zmeskal Rivalry Was the Big Story of 1992

In 1992, the media were focused, for the most part, on two American gymnasts: Miller and Kim Zmeskal. Zmeskal was the three-time U.S. national champion, but Miller won the Olympic Trials and seemed to be peaking at just the right time.

To add to the rivalry, the two gymnasts had contrasting styles: Zmeskal was powerful and charismatic when she performed, while Miller was more serious, letting her impressive array of skills speak for themselves.

4. She Was the Star of the 1992 Olympics

Few gymnasts have ever matched Miller's incredible performance at the Barcelona Olympics. She earned five medals, the most of any American athlete at the 1992 Games, and successfully hit all sixteen of her routines.

Miller led the U.S. team to a bronze medal, then earned a silver in the individual all-around, behind Tatiana Gutsu by only 0.012. Some experts felt she deserved gold, and the result is still debated today.

Miller qualified for all four event finals and won medals in three of them: silver on beam and bronze on bars and floor. She is one of only three American gymnasts to have won five medals in a single Olympics games. Mary Lou Retton and Nastia Liukin are the other two.

5. She Then Became a Back-to-Back World Champ

In 1993, Miller filled in one of the few lines missing from her illustrious resume: a major all-around victory. She took the world all-around title in impressive fashion, qualifying first on every event in preliminaries, then edging out Romania's Gina Gogean for the win in the all-around finals by 0.007. She followed up her victory with golds on bars and floor, as well, despite competing with a nagging stomach bug.

At the 1994 worlds, Miller was slowed in the training beforehand by a pulled stomach muscle.

But she put it all together in the competition, winning a second consecutive all-around title. At the time Miller was the only U.S. gymnast to have accomplished this feat.

6. She Struck Olympic Gold in 1996

In 1996, Miller won her second U.S. national title (her first was in 1993), but she sat out the Olympic Trials due to tendonitis in her wrist. She successfully petitioned to use her nationals scores at the trials and was named to the team.

With Olympic veterans, such as Miller, Dominique Dawes and Kerri Strug, the 1996 American team was even stronger than the 1992 one had been. The U.S. women, dubbed The Magnificent Seven, earned gold — the first American women's team to become Olympic champions.

Miller was again considered a prime contender for the Olympic all-around title, but a low landing and an out-of-bounds deduction on floor left her in eighth.

She rallied for the beam finals, however, winning gold in her final routine of the 1996 Games.

Watch Miller's beam routine.

7. Miller Made an Unlikely Comeback for 2000

In 2000, Miller returned to gymnastics to attempt a third Olympics. She performed solidly on uneven bars at the 2000 U.S. nationals (earning 9.65) but was forced to withdraw from the Olympic Trials after suffering a minor knee injury on vault and wasn't named to the team.

8. She Did Risky and Original Skills

Miller was well-known for her tricky skills across all four events. She performed a hop full to Gienger (at 8 seconds) on uneven bars; a back dive to immediate full pirouette (at two minutes,19 seconds)three-layout series (at 38 seconds); a full-in dismount (at one minute, 23 seconds) on beam; and a double layout and whip through to full-in (at 15 seconds) on floor.

In 1991 and 1992 especially, Miller was regarded as having some of the highest difficulty levels in the world.

9. She Now Has Two Kids

Miller was born on March 19, 1977, in Rolla, Missouri, to Ron and Claudia Miller. She has an older sister, Tessa, and a younger brother, Troy. Miller began gymnastics in 1982 and was coached as an elite gymnast by Steve Nunno and Peggy Liddick at Dynamo Gymnastics.

Miller graduated in 2003 with a bachelor's in marketing and entrepreneurship from the University of Houston, then attended the Boston College School of Law. She married Chris Phillips in 1999, but the pair divorced seven years later. Miller got re-married in 2007 to John Falconetti, president of Drummond Press, a printing company. She has two children, Rocco, born in October 2009, and Sterling, born in June of 2013.

In 2010, Miller was diagnosed with a type of ovarian cancer. She underwent surgery and chemotherapy and was declared cancer-free later that year.

Read more about what Miller’s doing now.

Gymnastics Results

International:

  • 1996 Olympic Games: 1st team; 8th all-around; 8th vault; 1st beam
  • 1995 world championships: 3rd team; 7th bars; 4th beam
  • 1994 world championships (team): 2nd team
  • 1994 world championships (individual): 1st all-around; 1st beam
  • 1993 world championships: 1st all-around; 1st bars; 1st floor
  • 1992 Olympic Games: 3rd team; 2nd all-around; 3rd bars; 2nd beam; 3rd floor
  • 1991 world championships: 2nd team; 6th all-around; 6th vault; 2nd bars; 6th beam; 6th floor

National:

  • 2000 U.S. nationals: 2nd bars
  • 1996 U.S. nationals: 1st all-around
  • 1995 U.S. nationals: 2nd all-around; 1st vault; 3rd floor
  • 1994 U.S. nationals: 2nd all-around; 2nd vault; 2nd bars; 2nd beam; 2nd floor
  • 1993 U.S. nationals: 1st all-around; 2nd vault; 1st bars; 3rd beam; 1st floor
  • 1992 Olympic Trials: 1st all-around
  • 1991 U.S. nationals: 7th all-around; 1st beam

Learn More About Miller