Annia Hatch is a retired Cuban American gymnast. She competed for Cuba at the 1996 World championships where she won Cuba’s first World medal in gymnastics. Hatch qualified to the 1996 Olympic but due to lack of funding she was prevented from going there. later retired. 

Hatch who moved  to the states in 1997, made a comeback in 2001. At the Athens Olympics, Hatch won two silver medals (team and vault). WOGymnastika brings to you an exclusive interview with Olympic and World medalist Annia Hatch.

Gigi Khazback: Where is Annia Hatch now?

Annia Hatch: I am in living in Va

Gigi Khazback: During you gymnastics career, You competed under two flags, Cuba and the states. How different was your experience of competing for Cuba from the states?

 Annia Hatch: For Cuba it was like a job to me for the States I felt like I could achieve my dreams and had control of what I wanted to do. 

Gigi Khazback: At the 1996 World championships, you won the bronze medal on vault however many experts felt you deserved the gold one over Romania’s Gina Gogean and Simona Amanar. At that time Did you feel robbed?

Annia Hatch: I was very happy with how I vaulted and that’s what I focused on at that time. My expectations weren’t to win a medal so I was excited to win one. But now I can say it could have been great if they did give me 1st. 

Gigi Khazback: That bronze medal was the first for a Cuban gymnast, How did that affect the Cuban gymnastics community and you as a gymnast?  Did you get media attention?

Annia Hatch: Yes, and I was the sport athlete of the year and rewarded with a very nice house. 

Gigi Khazback: You qualified as an individual for the 1996 Olympics, but a lack of funding prevented the Cuban Olympic Committee from sending you to the competition, how did you handle the situation ?

Annia Hatch: It was very sad time for me. I retired after that for Cuba. I also wanted to finish with a good performance like I did at the 96 worlds. 

Gigi Khazback: At that time did you think you had a chance of winning an Olympic medal?

Annia Hatch: Yes, I think so. I always expect the best. Have to dream big to win big.

Gigi Khazback: After almost 5 years of retirement you decided to make a comeback, what made you comeback to gymnastics?

Annia Hatch: I felt like i’ve got some unfinished business and to try to go to the olympics. 
Gigi Khazback: In 2003, You had a career threatening injury (ACL), at that time have you though of quitting gymnastics? 

Annia Hatch: No. Back in my mind I knew God have made me for a purpose and needed to finish what I started. God helped me to finish it. I just needed to stay focus. 

Gigi Khazback: What advice can you give to the gymnasts who have injured themselves and therefor lost confidence?

Annia Hatch: To believe no matter what the task is and that god is in control. They just need to stay focus. 

Gigi Khazback: You went through a lot of hard times during your career, like not going to the Olympics in 1996, getting denied a chance of competing at the 2002 Worlds due to Fidel Castro refusal to give permission to release you so you can represent your new country and tearing your ACL during the podium training of the 2003 Worlds, How did you manage to handle the disappointment?

Annia Hatch: At the time I was just thinking on what was the most important “my knee” and how to get better. All the other distractions, I kind of learn how to block them. This is how I learnt how to survive during hard times knowing what to block and what to focus on. 

Gigi Khazback: Were there times where you felt you couldn’t do it anymore and that you were cursed or have constant bad luck? 

Annia Hatch: There were times that I had self doubts and I though that things were difficult but I never gave up. That’s what it takes. Don’t give up!!!

Gigi Khazback: At the 2004 Olympics, you competed with your ACL not completely rehabilitated, Weren’t you afraid that by this you might worsen your knees? How did your coach and people around you feel about it?
Annia Hatch: My athletic trainer told me to take one day at a time and to start listening to my body. 

Gigi Khazback: You won two silver medals at the Olympics, Were you completely satisfied with your Olympic results?

Annia Hatch: I was satisfied with my performance but not ok with the silver but I learnt how to cope with it because I felt blessed to just be able to make the Olympic team after everything that has happened.

Gigi Kazback: What have you been doing since your retirement?

Annia Hatch: After the Olympic I refocused on my new life. I went to college to study Fashion design and merchandise. In 2007, i went to fashion week and stayed focus on it for 5 years and did a few others fashion show. I couldn’t  get gymnastics out of my system so I started coaching and now living in Va with a goal of making great gymnasts. 

Gigi Khazback: Do you feel more Cuban or an American?

Annia Hatch: An American. But I don’t forget where I come from. 

Gigi Khazback: During the medal ceremony of the vault final at the 2004 Olympics, have you had thoughts of “God i wish it was the Cuban flag”?

Annia Hatch: I had thoughts like I was glad I made it to Olympics after what i have gone through. Since I was a little girl I have always admired American gymnasts like Shannon Miller and Dominique Dawes. It was an honor for me to have  the opportunity to make the American team. 

Gigi Khazback: Who are the gymnasts who impressed you the most in London?

Annia Hatch: Mckayla, Aly and Gabby. They did awesome. I was at the Kellogg’s tour and I talked to Mckayla and She was so cute. She let me know how happy she was to meet me and that I was her role model growing up. 

Gigi Khazback: What are you looking forward to?

Annia Hatch: To always try to achieve God’s purpose. To have my own gymnastics facility and my own athletic clothing line. I am an only child so i want a big family with minimum of three kids. 

Interview by Gigi Khazback Farid


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