Shannon Miller withstood the test of time to not only entrench her place as one of the best gymnasts in United States’ history, she also led the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team – dubbed the Magnificent Seven – to the nation’s first-ever Olympic gold in team all-around competition.
Miller, who began competitive gymnastics at a young age, was just 15 years old at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games when she showed off her incredible versatility and durability. She was one of only two gymnasts to compete in every event final. After helping the U.S. to a bronze medal in the team competition, Miller brought home four more medals: silver in the balance beam and bronze in the floor exercise and uneven bars. She took silver in the all-around competition, missing the gold medal by 0.012 points.
“When I came home with five Olympic medals I had no idea or real understanding of that accomplishment,” Miller later wrote. “I was back in the gym a few days later working on new skills and looking to the next competition. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand that the Olympic Games were a big deal or wasn’t appreciative of that experience. On the contrary, I had so much fun; I wanted to do it again!”
Four years later, a veteran at age 19, Miller was spectacular as the Magnificent Seven took gold in the team competition at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. She was the team’s highest scorer and also took gold in the balance beam.
“I was older – a veteran at the ripe old age of 19 – and had a better understanding of The Games beyond the competition floor,” Miller wrote. “It was more nerve-racking in some ways. I wanted so badly to do well on home soil and win a gold medal for my country. I also think I had that added understanding that this was my last Olympic Games.”
Miller remains one of the most decorated American gymnasts, with seven Olympic medals and 16 World Championship medals.