Carly Patterson is the first US female gymnast to win an Olympic all around title since Mary Lou Retton in 20 years and the first female American gymnast in a non boycott Olympics.
Beside her Olympic gold, she helped her team to win their first ever World title at the pre Olympic Worlds.
After her retirement, Patterson moved on to singing.  She currently resides in Texas with her husband Mark Caldwell whom she married in 2012.
In her exclusive interview with WOGymnastika, she talks post retirement life.

Gigi:  Where is Carly Patterson now?
Carly: I am graduating from Texas Woman’s University May 9th, which I could not be more excited or more proud of finally accomplishing my goal of getting my degree. I will have my bachelor’s degree in general studies focused on business and health studies with a minor in communications/journalism. This was something that took me eight years to accomplish so it means a lot to me to be able to have my degree alongside my Olympic accomplishments. I am a spokesperson for Taylor’s Gift Foundation that supports and brings awareness to organ donation. I also do motivational speaking, sharing the story of my Olympic journey, my life, and provide motivation for others to achieve their goals as well.

Gigi: If there is one thing gymnastics fans are curious about then it will be what Russia’s Svetlana Khorkina was telling you during the Olympic all around medal ceremony and after the Olympic team final, can you tell us what she told you?
Carly: She was actually telling me how to hold my medal for pictures, I guess I was holding it wrong?!

Gigi: Your victory at 2004 Olympic all-around competition had a unique significance, not only because you were the first American gymnast to win an all-around Olympic gold medal in a non-boycott Olympics, but also because you beat one of the all-time greatest gymnasts Svetlana Khorkina. After the competition, Khorkina said that you only won because you are an American and that everything was decided in advance. How did you first know about Khorkina’s statement and did it hurt you/ how did you react to it?
Carly: My coach actually told me about her comments after the press release we did when she was speaking in Russian. Honestly my coach and I looked at each other and laughed together and didn’t think about it again. What was funny and inaccurate about her comments was that I did not have a single American judge on the floor that night of competition to even help give me any kind of edge. My gold that night came from pure hard work, seizing the moment and having the best all-around competition of my life and that is why her comments never bothered me!


Photo by Sing Lo of comaneci-salto.com
Gigi: It was discovered that you had several bulging disks in your lower back after the Olympics and you were advised by your doctor to retire. Let’s say you were completely healthy and capable of continuing in the sport, would you still have retired especially since you have won the sport’s most prestigious medal (the all-around Olympic gold) and all your goals were accomplished or would you have made a comeback?
Carly: If it weren’t for my back problems I’m not sure what my decision would have been. All I know is that I did have a reason to retire and luckily all of my goals and dreams in the sport had been accomplished. Looking back now, I’m really glad I decided to go out on top and that’s what people can always remember me by.

Gigi: Can you tell us about your singing career?
Carly: Singing was something I have always loved to do and grew up watching my dad sing in his band and at church. I wrote songs, made a CD and did shows. I didn’t win a Grammy, but I had fun writing songs and recording and doing something totally different than I was used too.

Gigi: You have launched a contest offering your fans to win an exclusive opportunity to video chat with you, how did you come up with this idea?
Carly: A company called iCueConnect came to me with their new idea to have virtual experiences with fans. The contest winner gets a 15 minute video chat with me. It’s a really cool concept.

Gigi: How was the experience?
Carly:I will have the video chat at the end of this month so I’ll have to let you know!

Gigi: What are the highs and lows of your gymnastics and singing career?
Carly: Obviously some highs in my gymnastics career were winning World and Olympic gold medals and achieving all of my dreams in gymnastics.
Every day wasn’t always easy though; I broke my elbow less than a year before the Olympics, had 2 screws put into it and my ligament reattached. That was a scary time because I didn’t know if I would be able to come back. It was a full time job and I had to be all in or I wasn’t going to make it.
With singing I got to write a lot of the songs on my CD and a lot of the lyrics came from my gymnastics experiences. It was fun writing and recording and singing for people. The low side to it was a lot of people were mean and hateful about me trying something new. I got put into a box and people said I could only do gymnastics, and that the only reason I was doing singing was because I won an Olympic gold medal. Those things were hurtful, but ultimately I had fun and I’m glad I pursued something else I loved doing. I’m a big believer in trying everything you can in life and I’m proud of all of my experiences so far!

Photo by Sing Lo of comenaci-salto.com
Gigi: The more experience you gain, the more you learn. What have you learned so far from life?
Carly: A lot of what I have learned has been from gymnastics and my upbringing. I’ve learned that nothing comes easy; you have to be determined, committed and work your butt off for anything you want in life because it doesn’t get handed to you on a silver platter.
There are going to be tough times, struggles and haters throughout anyone’s life, but I’ve learned that if you can look for the positives in your challenges and learn from them you will grow and become a better person for it.
I’ve learned that happiness for me comes from doing what I love and being with the people I love and enjoying the simple things in life, like cooking for my family.

Gigi: Nowadays do you get recognized on streets?
Carly: Everyone once in a while I do, actually just the other day at Petco of all places! With it being 10 years since winning, I have grown up and matured in my looks from when I was 16 so I get “you look really familiar a lot” now.

Gigi: Tell us something we don’t know about you?
Carly: I love being normal. What I mean by that is, I absolutely love cooking in my kitchen; I’m always trying new recipes. Indian, Asian, Italian, American, I just love all types of foods.
My husband and I love doing DIY projects around our new house, we made some really cool, rustic patio furniture recently. We just made a new patio table for my mom for Mother’s Day that she is really excited about. I also love traveling and seeing new places as much as I can.

Gigi: Since after your retirement, who are the US and foreign gymnasts who have impressed you?
Carly: All the talent that is in gymnastics right now constantly impresses me. The US has so many great girls, Mckayla Maroney, Simone Biles, Brenna Dowell, Kyla Ross just to name a few. Russia has really started to build their program back and they have been putting out strong teams lead by Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova.

Gigi: What does Carly Patterson want to achieve in the next 5 years?
Carly: Now that I am finishing up college, I want to start setting some new goals for myself. I would love to grow my speaking career. In 5 years I definitely see myself becoming a mommy and starting a family. Ultimately being happy, healthy and enjoying life.
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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