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President George W. Bush
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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Kerri Strug
1996 Women's Gymnastics Gold Medal Olympian
August 20, 2004

Thank you for joining us on Ask the White House Today. Kerri Strug will be joining us from Athens, Greece, where she is helping at the 2004 Summer Olympics. She is pleased to take your questions.

Megan, from Seattle writes:
I thought your appearance on Saturday Night Live was hysterical obviously you embraced their attention. How did you deal with unwanted attention?

Kerri Strug
I enjoyed my skit on SNL. I think an athlete has a responsibility to society- especially young kids, and I wanted to show people that it is okay to make fun of yourself at times. None of us are perfect, and well life is a lot easier if you can laugh at your imperfections than take them personally. SNL did a great job with my skit. It was definitely one of the best things I did after the games.

Betsy, from Phildelphia writes:
Do you still practice gymnastics? Have you ever coached?

Kerri Strug
No, I do not practice gymnastics now. I did it every single day for 8 hours a day- for over 14 years of my life. I just go to the gym like everyone else now. I think it is important to get in a little bit of exercise 4-6 days a week. Now I like to run, ride the bike or do the elliptical machine for an hour or so.

I do coach gymnastics here and there, but it is not my full time job. I really enjoy going to camps and clinics in the summer. It is nice to see young gymnasts working hard in the gym.

Colleen, from Scranton writes:
If you could rewind time - would you relive your Olympic experience?

Kerri Strug
Good question! I had a lot of mixed emotions when I won the Team Gold in Atlanta. I was so happy we won. However, I was really upset I had hurt myself and was unable to compete in the All around finals and event finals that I had qualified for. I was always hoping for an individual medal as well as a team one. But over the years, I have learned my moment was very special and I now treasure the experience a lot more than I did at the time. So, yes, I would relive the Olympics just the same. There are a lot of Gold medal winners each year. However there are only a few people from each games that really make an impact on society. I have grown to learn that my vault represented a lot more than just us seven girls winning a gold medal, and that is an unbelievable feeling.

Mary, from Carbondale writes:
How did you deal with newfound stardom after your Olympic success?

Kerri Strug
It was hard to deal with a lot of attention at first. I was very shy when I was young and never had an opportunity to come out of my shell since I was always in the gym. However, most people rise to the occasion, and I feel like I did. I wanted to meet people and do different things and it made me become more assertive. I enjoyed getting to go to special events, meeting all different types of "cool" people, etc. etc. It was surreal at first- I had so much fun!!!

Katie, from Washington, DC writes:
Hi Kerri - What is like going from Olympic gold to the frantic world of Washington (especially the White House)? Were you able to carry any lessons you learned as a competitive athlete into politics?

Kerri Strug
It is so exciting living in Washington DC! I think it is essential for young people to work in DC for some period of time. There are so many things to do, see, and learn.

Jacki, from Allentown Pennsylvania writes:
Kerri, My 10 year-old daughter has been taking gymnastics lessons for the past 5 years. As she is getting older and more serious about this sport, what recommendations do you have for her? (and if you have any advice for parents as well, that too would be helpful)

Thanks for hosting this

Kerri Strug
My biggest piece of advice for any athlete is to enjoy what they are doing. It is very difficult to motivate yourself every single day/work out, but if you really love the sport you will want to get better and enjoy pushing yourself a little bit further each day.

As far as advice for a parent: It is important to support your child on good and bad days. There is a very fine line between being supportive and pushy, and you need to make sure you do not cross that line.

Some parents try to live vicariously through their child and that is not fair. Make sure it is your child's dream and show them unconditional love regardless of how they do in the gym.

Alan, from Lubbock, Texas writes:
Kerri--I feel like so many athletes end up not going to college to pursue their sport. Did you go to college and finish your education? If so--GREAT for you. Now you both are an Olympic Athlete and you have an advanced degree. did you do gymnastics in college if so?

Kerri Strug
I always thought I would compete gymnastics in college and kept my eligibility until after the Atlanta games. However, I decided to go professional after Atlanta and thus I could not except my scholarship from UCLA.

I did go to college right after the 1996 Games and earned my degree from Stanford University. My parents always made me go to school while I was training, and I knew getting a BA was non- negotiable with my parents. They always told me gymnastics was great, but it would be over before I knew it, and I had to get at least a college degree- if not more.

Terri, from Salt Lake City writes:
Kerri,Thanks for taking questions today. What are you up to these days--are you in Athens right now? If so, what kind of things are you doing there.

Thanks and keep up the great work.

Kerri Strug
I am living in Washington DC, and enjoying my twenties- I think I am making up for all the time I was in the gym. I have a job at the Treasury department, and I am currently training for the NYC marathon.

Yes, I am in Athens right now. I am here with Sports Illustrated. They bring a few Olympians on their ship to work with their VIPs and advertisers. We go to various events and explain what is going on and also give speeches to their different groups. In addition,I am writing editorials for Yahoo!Sports, and promoting Tivo while I am here in Athens. Needless to say I am staying very busy!

Kayla, from Bentonville, AR writes:
Thank you, Ms. Kerri Strug, for taking my question. What have you been doing since your Olympic Gold now that you are not in constant training? Thanks again and God Bless.

Kerri Strug
Since Atlanta, I have gone on tour, finished my BA and MA degree, taught in a public school in CA, and worked for the Bush Administration.

I have really tried to broaden my horizons over the past few years. I had never really done much outside the sport of gymnastics until after the 1996 games. Now I go to museums, shows, try to play different sports, travel a lot in order to speak to different corporations, and spend time with my family and friends.

Allyson, from Westlake Village, CA writes:
Hi Kerri Thank you for hosting "Ask the White House". I recently saw you on an episode of Trading Spaces. Did anything happen to your re-decorated room after the design team left? I often hear horror stories of rooms gone bad. Thank you.

Kerri Strug
Trading Spaces was quite an experience. I am very glad I got to do it with my close friend Olga. We were happy with the work that got done to our apartments and would do it all over again. However, it was a lot of work. It looks so easy on television!

Meghan, from Chatsworth, CA writes:
Hi,In 1996 I was 9 years old and fallen absolutely in love with gymnastics after watching it for one night (along with the rest of my friends). I'll never forget the night of the final - when my dad, knowing the outcome, let me stay up late to watch. Needless to say I was ecstatic when you stuck that landing on one footWOW What a story. What does that moment mean to you, and what is most important to you now that you are older and more mature? Thanks

Kerri Strug
Thank you for your kind words. Yes, that moment was very special. I do look at it differently now that I am older and more mature. At the time I had no idea why everyone was making such a big deal out of me making that final vault. I was upset with myself that I had fallen on the first one! Now that I am outside the sport of gymnastics I see its significance, and am very proud of that vault. I think the Olympics are about going that extra mile for not only yourself, but your teammates and your country that you are representing.

JE, from Ephrata, PA writes:
What was your first thought and feeling when it finally sunk in that you had won the gold?

Kerri Strug
I had a mixture of emotions when I was on the medals platform. I was so happy we won the gold. It was a dream come true, and the sense of satisfaction of knowing you accomplished your ultimate goal is so rewarding. But, I was also upset since I knew I was hurt and was probably out of the All around, Vault and Floor finals.

Michael, from Powell, TN writes:
How does an athlete qualifty to participate in the Olympics?

Kerri Strug
The qualification procedures for each sport are different. For gymnastics. One has to qualify to our National Championships. The top 14 from there go onto the Olympic Trials. At the Olympic Trials the Top 12 were selected to go to a training camp. At the training camp six girls wer picked to compete on the Olympic Team.

Thank you for all of your great questions for Kerri. She enjoyed your participation on Ask the White House today.

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