I learned to take those experiences that were difficult in my life and in the adversity that I had overcome to use it for a positive change.
It's human nature to be timid in the face of obstacles, but I have learned to believe that challenges are opportunities for genius to shine. In order to feel alive, we have to accomplish things that we once believed we could not.
As a competitive gymnast, my life has always been filled with challenges that would ultimately define my future. From day one, I was taught to be prepared at all costs.
We need to educate our elite coaches more and have a better approach to teaching the athletes about how to be healthy rather than berate them, humiliate them, use tactics that could scar them for life.
Training with Bela and Marta Karolyi took the joy out of the Olympics for me. I look back and feel there was a lot of verbal and physical abuse. For years, I felt it was my problem.
My parents enrolled me in a gymnastics class when I was three years old, and I just was drawn to gymnastics. I loved it. It was my playground, and I could run around and be free there.
Autographs and pictures do get a little old, but I don't mind if the people want it.
Since my mother is an extremely devoted Christian Orthodox woman, she prayed a great deal and taught me how to pray.
The time leading up to the 1996 Olympics was the most demanding and stressful of my career. The sport I had loved so much was slowly becoming a nightmare as I trained with Bela and Marta Karolyi the summer before the Olympics.
I had this sister that was born who was given up for adoption, and I never knew it.
In my very first interview, at nine years old, I said I wanted to be an Olympic gold medalist. That was the first time I said it out loud in front of somebody other than my parents.
I was 26 years old when I found out that I had a sister who I never knew existed.
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