Sunday, November 9, 2008

Life Begins again at nineteen....

If you're a gymnast, you gotta have a fallback plan. For one, as we have seen repeatedly, there's a pretty good chance you won't make it to the Olympics.  And even if you are good enough, you may get injured, run out of money or burn out before your time.
Besides, even if you do make it, a gymnastics careers has got to be one of the shortest careers on earth.  You need to find something to do afterward, at, like sixteen, or eighteen (okay, slight exaggeration!) when you find you're all washed up and finished with sport.  (I make it sound so attractive don't I?!)
 I alway though being either a gymnast, where you get to start again and have a whole new career would be a cool thing.  Either that, or waiting until you're old and having your Olympic career in rifle shooting or lawn bowls.  That way, you don't have to spend your whole life training!
ANYWAY, today, in honour of Alicia Sacramone's proposed launch into reality television (who didn't see her television career coming?  Bet she'll do better than Carly) I thought I'd take a look at the kinds of careers- other than coaching- some gymnasts had after they hung up their leotards and were done being gymnasts!

Some chose to fix injuries.  Canada's Karen Kelsall, after stints at book writing and colour commentating, became a chiropractor and massage therapist, owning her own chirpractic clinic. Former german gymnastics champion Sylvia Hindorff chose to fix minds, becoming a psychotherapist.
Elodie Lussac was a wonderful French gymnast who competed in the early to mid-nineties, at that point being one of France's best gymnasts. Her career ended early with a terrible back injury which prevented her from ever competing again.  Elodie sued the French Gymnastics Federation who refused to have her injury looked at and forced her to compete in Dortmund in 1994, and she was awarded a small payout.  Nothing though, compared to what she will probably earn when she has finished her medicine degree and becomes a doctor!

You can buy a franchise. Lori Strong was, in her time, one of Canada's greatest gymnasts.  She was considered a real chance at an AA medal in Seoul, but was devastated by a fractured leg during a tumbling move on floor.  After retiring, Lori completed a bachelor in broadcast journalism while competing for the Georgia Gymdogs, who she would become an assistant coach for.  When she eventually left the sport altogether she became an owner of a Smoothie King franchise outlet.  She runs it with her husband, selling healthy smoothies and frozen yoghurts in Los Angeles while coaching on the side.  She is also a colour commentator for Canadian gymnastics broadcasts.

There is the jack-of-all-trades type.  Isabelle Severino has got to be in here for not only having a successful career after being a gymnast, but also whilst being a gymnast.  She left the sport to do competitive aerobics and to perform for Cirque de Soleil, only to return to compete in international gymnastics.  She would probably still be competing if it weren't for that tragic achilles injury that took her out before Beijing.  Not only has she achieved all that, she runs her own communications company and has played a body double in the film Stick It.

Some simply change sports.  Allana Slater turned to rifle shooting after retiring from gymnastics and was even rumored to be making a move toward Beijing.   She attributed her mental toughness, her desire for great technique, and funnily enough, her ability to stand still, as qualities from gymnastics she could take into rifle shooting to help with her success. Kerri Strug started running in marathons after her retirement.  

Another Australian gymnast, Alexandra Croak became a diver and competed on the Beijing squad.
Izabel Lacatus of Romania (known for the whackiest beam mount ever) became a World Cup Aerobics champion in 2001.

You can go off to the office. Chen Cuiting, the first of the baby, tiny Chinese gymnasts, who became massively popular as the "China Doll" of 1986, went on, after her retirement to become a judge, but also to have a career in banking in Hong Kong.  Mohini Bhardwaj completed College with two degree and planned on a career in law.  Luisa Parente of Brazil also became a lawyer.  Kerri Strug works for the Department of Justice.  

Some ran away to the circus.  Yelena Grosheva and Yevgenia Roschina have also put their long gymnastics careers to good use, performing a show together in a Russian Bars act for the Cirque troupe Allegria. Grosheva left eventually, but Roschina continue to perform for them, doing a fast track act.  The Yurkina sisters and Svetlana Baitova also did similar things, working with troupes that perform at Sea World and other theme parks doing circus performances.  Betty Okino also became a performer in circus shows as well as doing some acting.

Some sell sportswear.  The Americans, like Nastia and Chellsie have been doing it for years, but they are not the only ones.  Natalia Yurchenko, Olga Bicherova- the cutest face in the sport- and Svetlana Boguinskaya got together to form a business designing and selling sportwear a few years ago.  The company was named  SBS (Svetlana Boguinskaya Sportswear) on the internet.  I guess they had decided hers was the name that would sell the threads.  I don't know, what with vaulting trends, you hear the name Yurchenko a whole lot more!

There is always "politics" The other Sveta, when busy not being a coach, a singer an actress, a catwalk model, or a topless model, is these days keeping busy in the mystifying world of Russian politics where gymnasts and rhythmic gymnasts are welcome to don a suit and sit in the back of parliament and giggle the day away.

Some utilized the artistic side of their previous careers.  Pascale Grossenbacher was a swiss gymnast who competed in the mid nineties, including the 1996 Olympic Games.  After retiring from a successful career she joined a hip-hop dance company called Positive Vibe in Zurich, Switzerland which won the 2003 European hip-hop championships.  She now owns her own dance company and has choreographed floor routines for some Swiss gymnasts including Ariella Kaeslin.  Yulia Kut also became a ballroom dancer.  Elvira Becks of the Netherlands became a showgirl and dancer for various musical shows.


  1. Don't forget Amy Chow who earned her Medical degree after her career in gymnastics. Or Shannon Miller who went on to get her Law degree at Boston College but now does performing, coaching, and commentating

  2. Thanks, but I haven't forgotten, i just can't write about everyone. I'd be writing this blog all day! Thanks for your bit, though. Amy Chow strikes me as one of those ultra, ultra accomplished people, don't you think?

  3. There is a lot of pressure in many Asian American families to push their children hard. Though there are a lot of American families that also push their children hard. I also think it has to do with the fact that sports like gymnastics, figure skating, and equestrian sports take a ton of time, that many of the athletes in those sports are more focused and dedicated to getting things done.

    I know, its tough! There's so much I'd love to write about but I'd be writing all day LOL.