Being expected to dominate gymnastics when you turn senior, does not guarantee becoming one. Former U.S gymnast Vanessa Atler was not only expected to make the then Olympic team but to also dominate the sport internationally.

Atler was the first American gymnast to perform a Rudi vault. She was known for her explosive vaults and difficult tumbling skills. She was one of the most successful juniors in the late 1990s having won several in several important meets such as the Goodwill Games.

After injuries, gym changes and coaching conflicts, Alter performed poorly at the 2000 Olympic trails thus ending her gymnastics career.

Recently, Atler gave an emotional interview to Gymnewstics where she talked about her struggle to move on after her gymnastics career came to an end. ” It took me a long time.” Vanessa toldGymnewstics “I still have days where probably 90% of my dreams are always doing gymnastics competition. It took me probably two years after I quit to really realize ok, I need to just move on from it and stuff.” 

However, Atler admitted that she tried to make a comeback not because she wanted to do gymnastics all over again but to prove people wrong. At that time Atler was having eating problems. Her former Steve Rybacki  coach was unsure about it and told her to wait for a week to see if she will feel the same. And that’s when she realized that the reason she wanted to comeback for was all wrong  . “I do love gymnastics, but it would be too hard for me with the way it ended. I think right after I realized that, I just said ok, I need to move forward. And I still went through a depression for another year or so where i just didn’t do anything. I laid in bed, my parents left me alone, and eventually I read some books and got up. But I still have dreams, it never really leaves you.” Said Atler.

Atler chose to coach which she believes  a good therapy “It’s a way for me to still be involved with gymnastics and teach them lessons.”

In 2005, Vanessa appeared on the television show starting over where she discussed some of the self-esteem and confidence issues that had arisen from her struggles in gymnastics. At that time they were looking for an athlete whom has had a rough time and is trying to move on with their life. 

Vanessa at that time wanted to have help. She agreed to do the show believing that it will help her with her weight issues and also because she hated how people assumed that they know the whole story when they weren’t even close.

Doing the show made her learn that nothing is the end of the world “I tell my kids all the time, it’s not a big deal what’s happening right now because when you’re done at 18 or whatever, you’re going to have so much more life! It’s going to be such a tiny part. It’s not devastating. They fall apart if they get a 7 on something and I go, “you’re going to get a 7, you’re not going to die.” That’s what they used to tell me on Starting Over: “Are you going to die?”

As a gymnast,  what she has learned so far was communicating as she was the kind of person who does what people want her to do ” It’s always better to talk things out, and you’ll always find at least one person willing to be there and listen.”.  

Atler described Olympic silver medalist Alicia Sacramone as someone she would have liked to be stating that she has always wanted to be a cool gymnast like her and that she represents the sport well.

Written by Gigi Khazback Farid
Axact

WOGymnastikA

WOGymnastikA is a blog turned website which brings you the latest updates on women’s artistic gymnastics as well as exclusive interviews with your favorite gymnasts. If you are interested in joining our team, please contact us on wogymnastika@gmail.com .

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