Meet Olympic Gold Medalist Carly Patterson

by : Grant Eckert

Although Carly Rae Patterson was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on February 4, 1988, she is now living in Allen, Texas with her mother and sister. Carly is an incredibly accomplished athlete for her age. She is a former Olympic all-around Champion for the United States 2004 Olympic Team in Athens, Greece.

Due to injuries in her lower back, Carly is unfortunately not scheduled to make an appearance competing in women's gymnastics with the U.S. 2008 Olympic Team. However, while Carly is one of the world's most talented gymnasts, she was not always on the path to greatness.

It was at a young cousin's birthday party in 1994 that Carly's true gymnastic talent was noticed by a coach at a gymnastic club. Carly's cousin belonged to a gymnastic club which hosted the birthday party. At that time, the coach saw the then six year old Carly tumbling around and immediately noticed her natural talent. Just six years later, Carly competed in Belgium's Top Gym Tournament winning the silver medal in the all-around and the bronze for balance beam, which is undoubtedly Carly's favorite event.

One year later, Carly competed in the Goodwill Games in Brisbane, Australia. It was not her best performance, although she did rank second in the all-around competition before the final rotation. She was sick during the event and ended up finishing in seventh place. Despite an overall disappointing performance, her balance beam routine was almost flawless and featured what would become know as her signature move, 'the Patterson'. This signature move is a double Arabian dismount from the balance beam.

By 2002, Carly Patterson became the U.S. Junior National All-Around champion and was considered to be one of the most important young female gymnasts of the time thus making her a viable candidate for the 2004 Olympic All-Around title. After her accomplishment in 2002, she went on to win almost every competition she entered. Unfortunately, due to a broken elbow in 2003, Carly had to sit out of the U.S. National Championships, but still went on to win the all-around silver medal at the World Gymnastics Championships in Anaheim, California making her the first American woman to achieve this accomplishment since 1994. This helped solidify her place on the 2004 U.S. Gymnastics Team.

During the 2004 Olympic trials, Carly did not perform to her best standards and had two falls during her balance beam routine, which dropped her to third place. It was because of this that she was not automatically placed on the 2004 U.S. Olympic team, however there was no doubt that she would end up competing in Athens that year.

At the 2004 Summer Olympics, Carly Patterson proved just how good she was, despite that already being clear to the world. She and her teammates won the silver medal for the team competition. During these events, Carly also won a silver medal for the balance beam, which is only fitting since she takes so much pride into each balance beam routine. In addition to winning two silver medals during these games, Carly also set a record. She became the first American woman to win a gold medal in the all-around during a fully attended Olympic Games. Her performances at the 2004 Olympics have placed Carly in the history books and paved the way for a very exciting life.

Shortly after her great achievements in the 2004 Summer Olympics, doctors found several bulging disks in Carly's lower back. Due to this health issue, she was forced to reduce the amount of time dedicated to gymnastic training; however it has not stopped her on any other level. Carly continues to make appearances on talk shows, game shows, and television shows as well as participating in many autograph sessions and interviews each year. Partly due to her grueling schedule, Carly retired from gymnastics in 2006 and will not be competing in the 2008 Summer Olympics, much to the disappointment of many gymnastic enthusiasts. She will, however, be honored at the 2008 games by being inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

Now that Carly has officially retired from the world of gymnastics, she continues to pursue many challenges. She recently served as the American Dental Association's (ADA) Youth Ambassador for Give Kids a Smile (GKAS) as well as the ambassador for National Children's Dental Access Day. She is one of many well known athletes to use her status in a positive way.

One of her current passions is her music career. In 2005, she discussed her wishes to pursue a career in music and announced that she would be working on a demo. That demo has apparently paid off as she has recently signed with Music Mind Records and will be releasing her first single, 'Temporary Life (Ordinary Girl)' at the end of March 2008. Carly has also taken some time to write an autobiography discussing her life as a young gymnast through her Olympic competitions.