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World Chamption Gymnast Shayla Worley
Interview with world champion gymnast
Q: In 2007, you were a member of the U.S world championship team that won a gold medal. What was it like to be on that team and win a gold medal?
A: I would say that the whole experience was magical. I put in years and months of good hard work and it felt awesome for it to come together and to be selected on the team. The entire team had great training every day and everything really went smoothly. When we did win that medal, it was just like the icing on the cake. For those 5 minutes that we first found out we won it was like the world stopped; it was great.
Q: In 2008, you broke your foot at the Olympic selection camp but still decided to go to Beijing to watch your teammates compete. Why did you decide to go to Beijing and did you have fun?
A: It was a hard decision for me. I decided that was still my team and I was still a part of the whole process. I wanted to be there to support them and to be there to see it all happen. It was my dream and it was really great for me to see it happen and know that I did everything I could to have been there. It was a good healing process.
Q: In an interview after Beijing, you said your teammates snuck you into the Olympic village so that you could see it. Did going to Beijing and having experiences like going to the Olympic village make you feel a little better after not making the Olympic team?
A: I don’t think that anything can really replace the emptiness of not being able to be on the team. I think that all those experiences over there helped me move on and be ok with it. It made me realize that I did everything in my power and it just wasn’t in the cards for me.
Q: Looking back, do you think that everything you went to on the road to trying to make the Olympic team was worth it?
A: Absolutely. I wouldn’t change a thing. It made me the person I am today and gave me so many wonderful experiences and relationships with coaches and other gymnasts. I’m very blessed and thankful that I was able to do all those things.
Q: You took part in The Tour of Gymnastics Superstars after the Olympics. What was it like to participate in the tour?
A: The tour was another great opportunity that arose from the whole thing. It was really fun to live like a rock star for 3 months. Every night was a new city and it was a lot of fun. We developed really close relationships with everyone on the tour. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience.
Q: You now compete for the University of Georgia. Are you enjoying competing in the NCAA?
A: Absolutely. I love Georgia and everything about it. Our entire program is just amazing. The Olympic disappointment kind of led me here and I couldn’t be happier. I think that everything happens for a reason and this is for the best.
Q: Are you able to experience the normal college lifestyle outside of the gym?
A: Ya, it’s all a bundle package. You come here being recruited; you’re kind of only thinking about gymnastics. Once you get here, you finally realize that there is life outside of gymnastics. You have to do school and time management is really hard and you have to keep your grades at an excellent level that is a good representation of our program.
Q: Do you ever think about returning to elite gymnastics and trying to make the London 2012 Olympic team?
A: People ask me and I’m like ya I would love to do that, but, being realistic, my body has gotten to a place where I can’t take the numbers and pounding that are required to be at that level. I’m really happy where I’m at in college and I love competing collegially and, like I said, I think I’ve been able to turn the page and move on from that experience.
Q: Do you know what you want to do once you graduate from college?
A: Not specifically. I’m trying to double major in advertising and marketing. I would like to do something along those lines.
Q: Are you still friends with any of the athletes you competed with on the elite level?
A: Yes. I’m still very close with Sam Peszek (2008 Olympian and current UCLA gymnast) and Nastia Liukin(2008 Olympic champion) and we keep in touch a lot, Ichat and try to visit each other. It’s been fun seeing Sam a lot and different competitions. Even though were on different teams, we’re still best friends.