Monday, September 15, 2008

Alicia Sacramone: 10 Things To love....

Because she is (so far) leading The Couch Gymnast retirement poll, Alicia is the first in a series of lists about the gymnasts who may be leaving the sport and why we love them!

Her Personality

No other gymnast has garnered the kind of media attention Alicia Sacramone has gotten over the last couple of years. Even in the post-Beijing furore over her performance, interest in her hasn’t waned. This is for one simple reason. She has more personality in her little finger than most other gymnasts have in their entire bodies. She is loud. She is funny and she is not afraid to say things in an interview outside of the standard lines some other gymnasts give. She has even admitted that she asks herself sometimes, “Are you really going to say that out loud Alicia?” Well I for one, am so glad she does say it out loud!

Her Unswerving Honesty.

One of the things that sets her apart is her desire to let people know how she really feels. She doesn’t seem to care if it makes her look vulnerable or human. She admitted in an interview that she cried for weeks after not making the 2004Olympic Team. She unabashedly told a newspaper that she nearly threw up before Olympic trials this year and she isn’t afraid to admit that at one point she thought about quitting the sport.
She isn’t embarassed to show her emotions either. So many people made such a big deal out of her obvious devastation at losing floor to Shawn Johnson at Stuttgart, claiming she was being a bad sport. That is ridiculous. It was about her own disappointed. Can’t an athlete be angry at themselves? Aren’t we allowed to see that they feel they have let themselves down; that they are human?

Her sense of humour

For starters, she has one. Have you seen any gymnast do anything even remotely as entertaining as A-Sacs knock out punch on You Tube (I don’t count insane things like Chussovitina’s Dance Routine. I’m pretty sure that was unintentionally funny)? Or her interview with Gymnast talking about how Marta would react if she knew about it (“She’d hang me!”) ?
In fact, how often have you seen a gymnast be funny at all?! Sometimes she is even unintentionally hilarious, like in that post-Olympic interview when Bridget Sloan said she had to go straight back to school. When asked about going back to Brown, Alicia said she had months to go before classes would start, then turned to Bridge and said, “Sorry dude!”

Her Coach.

Mihai Brestyan has got to be the cuddliest looking coach out there. Who could not love a guy who pointed to his grey hair in an interview and said about Alicia, laughing, “Look at my hair! Three quarters of this is her!” Or a man who, before she went out to do that gold-clinching floor routine, yelled to her “Change your face! Change your face!” in order to remind her to smile and relax.
And she clearly adores him. One of my all-time fave A-Sac moments was after she did that awesome Stuttgart floor routine that guaranteed them the gold. She was so overwhelmed afterwards and seemed to be wandering around looking for something. Then it became clear. She was searching for Mihai. It was like the only person she wanted to see, the only person who would understand what it meant to her. Her long-time coach was the one who really knew how hard she’d worked for it.

Her Strength

It must have taken so much personal grit to hold it together so graciously and humbly in the media aftermath of Beijing, when all she probably wanted to do was collapse in a heap and cry (especially considering how much that shallow twit Andrea Joyce laid it on about her falls in the post-meet interview.)
Other gymnasts might not have managed to face the media at all. Poor Alicia. Gymnasts have bad days. Alicia had a bad day at the worst possible time and she is such a competitor she will carry that with her forever. But in the face of the media onslaught, she is proving her maturity and courage even more.

Her work ethic

She is the only female gymnast to be competing NCAA gymnastics, competing at an elite level AND going to college full time ( though she did to take a year off for Beijing training, but that is just plain good sense!) If that isn’t a work ethic, what is?

Her Feminism

In one way, Alicia is a great representative for feminism by just being who she is, a strong, outspoken woman doing her thing, but she really showed her personal politics when she was questioned about juggling NCAA and elite gymnastics. She simply retorted “Guys do it all the time. Why not girls?”

Her Gigantic Skills

Front Handspring Rudi
Front to immediate back tuck
Round-off flip-flop double Arabian
Need I say more?
(I read a blog by someone who had seen Alica compete for Brown. Apparently she only did a handspring vault! It was a massive handspring though,and she alledgedly cracked up laughing as she nailed it to the floor!)

That Pep Talk

She has to be loved for her leadership, for pulling her team mates aside after the beam rotation and talking both them and herself into snatching Team Gold.
It has been so great over the last few years for the U.S team to have someone with enough personality and integrity to assume leadership of the group. I can understand why Nastia Liukin said she found it so hard to comfort Alicia at Beijing. They were so, so used to it being the other way. Alicia jokes in interviews about younger gymnasts running to her over their sometimes silly problems, but you can tell she loves it.

Her Sexiness.

Alicia is not afraid to put in a bit of sass in her gymnastics, which as far as I’m concerned, is a bit of a relief from all the cutesy in this sport. It also brings a bit of maturity to performance as well. No wonder the internet is jammed with sites about her general hotness and her staggering amount of male fans. Good on her!


  1. This was amazing! i loved reading it! sooo sooo soo true!