Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Meeting my Olympic Idols

Since the Olympics are right around the corner, I thought I'd share a little story about how I met two famous Olympians.

First off, my friend Katie and I were obsessed with the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Obsessed is probably a mild term. We knew everything there was to know about the Magnificent Seven. I'm pretty sure our parents thought we had lost our minds. We would eat, sleep, and breath Olympic gymnastics. To tell you the truth, I have no idea how we got to that point. It just happened. {I blame Katie}


We both agreed that the amazing Shannon Miller was our favorite gymnast, but leading close behind were our two Ohio girls, Jacyie Phelps and Amanda Borden. We truly loved them all.

Our first encounter meeting one of our idols happened shortly after the Olympics were over. In July 1997, our local mall was having its grand opening and Jaycie Phelps herself was at the mall to welcome us the community. My dad took Katie and I bright and early that morning and we were one of the first people in line. We were super nervous but so excited to meet an Olympian. I wheeled myself up to the table, had an interesting conversation about my recent knee surgery (I was in a wheel chair because I couldn't stand/walk on my leg yet), and had her sign my book all about the Magnificent Seven. We were truly in heaven. I'm pretty sure we took pictures that day, but I can't really remember. I think we can safely say 1997 was definitely not as picture crazy as today has become. But I definitely remember the excitement!!


The second encounter we had with one of our idols was extremely unexpected. My mom and Katie's mom drove us over an hour to Dayton to see the Men's and Women's gymnastics team on tour. We had already attended a similar show in Columbus but we just had to go to the show in Dayton too. Katie and I dressed up in our red, white, and blue {so happy I don't  have pictures of this} and made our way to the special dinner we had before the performance started so we could watch the athletes warm up. I know...exciting! {sarcasm}

After we handed our super-secret-backstage-passes to the man in charge, he told us to take the elevator up to where dinner would be served. We get in the elevator with our moms, excited as ever. Right as the door was closing a hand grabs the door open and a man steps in. 

Katie and I looked at each other.

Then we looked at our moms.

They obviously had no idea who he was. He gave us a nice smile but kept to himself. Katie and I couldn't help but whisper and giggle about the celebrity in front of us. As he made his way off of the elevator, on a different floor than where we were going, he told us to enjoy the show and that was it.

As soon as he was gone, Katie and I started screaming. I'm pretty sure our moms knew we had lost it then.

Who was this mystery man that we were too nervous to speak to? The one and only...


Bela Karolyi

Bela Karolyi has coached some of the most famous gymnasts in the world including Nadia Comaneci, Mary Lou Retton, Kim Zmeskal, Keri Strugg, and Dominique Moceanu. To say we were excited after that little run-in was an understatement.

Fifteen years later, I still remember so much of these two experiences. This adventure may not seem like a big deal, but it's an exciting and memorable experience for me that I will never forget. With the Olympics right around the corner and watching Marta Karolyi lead the 2012 women's to London, it makes me excited to relive my favorite Olympic sport {without the obsession and screaming in elevators}.


The Magnificent Seven 2011


  1. I totally understand that obsession! I'm SO excited to watch!!!

  2. I'm pretty sure every girl our age LOVED the Magnificent Seven back in 96!! I made J watch several of the floor routines from that Olympics on youtube the other night :)

  3. I was obsessed as well! I met Amanda Borden and she signed my Wheaties box! I was also at the show in Columbus and probably have the same book you do about the seven of them.

  4. I was obsessed as well! I met Amanda Borden and she signed my Wheaties box! I was also at the show in Columbus and probably have the same book you do about the seven of them.

  5. I was obsessed with the '96 team as well! Seems I ate, slept, and breathed olympic gymnastics! And, as ironic as it is, we named our little girl Jaycie (not after JP, it turns out). Funny how things come full circle! :) Glad to know I shared my obsession with others :)