Born in 1994, Aly Raisman started gymnastics at an early age. She quickly became a strong competitor, winning the gold in the vault event at the 2009 American Classic and in the all-around category at the 2011 CoverGirl Classic. Raisman also helped the U.S. gymnastics team win the 2011 World Championships. The following year, she won two gold medals—one in the gymanstics team competition and the other in the individual floor exercise—and a bronze medal for the beam at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. In 2016, Raisman returned to the Olympics in Rio, winning silver medals in the women's individual all-around final and floor exercise, and a gold medal in the women's gymnastics team competition.
A member of the U.S. Olympic women's gymnastics team, Aly Raisman started learning her sport not long after she began walking. In an interview with USA Gymnastics, she said, "I was two years old when my mom put me in mommy and me classes. I always had a lot of energy so it was the perfect fit!" The oldest of four children, Raisman is the daughter of two athletic parents. Her mother was a gymnast in high school and her father played hockey.
At the age of 10, Raisman took her training to another level. She started working with Mihai and Sylvie Brestyan at their American Gymnastics Club in Burlington, Massachusetts. Around the age of 14, Raisman had begun to compete on an elite level. She came in twelfth over all in junior competition at the 2009 Cover Girl Classic. That same year, Raisman won the junior vault event at the American Classic.
By 2010, Raisman proved that she had the right stuff to be a world-class gymnast. She was part of the silver medal-winning team at the World Championships and picked three bronze medals at the Visa National Championships that year. Raisman went on to win the Cover Girl Classic in 2011, and earned a bronze medal in the floor exercise at the 2011 World Championships. She and her teammates—Jordyn Wieber, Gabrielle Douglas, Sabrina Vega and McKayla Maroney—also took home the gold medal at the 2011 World Championships, in the team competition.
Raisman worked hard to balance her love of gymnastics with her school work. She went to Needham High School through her junior year, and completed her studies online in 2012. Though dedicated to her sport, she managed to find the time to go to graduation with her friends, and even made it to her senior prom. "The gymnastics definitely takes a priority, but she's very good with still trying to keep in touch with friends and having a little bit of normalcy," her mother, Lynn Raisman, told ESPN. "I think if you don't have that, it's hard. It's just a very grueling sport."
Raisman made the U.S. Olympic women's gymnastics team in 2012. "Making the team is a dream come true," she told ESPN. "I am so honored and so excited to represent my country. It means the world to me." While the 18-year-old gymnast was selected to be the team's captain, much of the initial media attention focused on Raisman's teammates, Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas.
Once the games started, however, Raisman showed the judges that she was no underdog. She beat out Wieber for a spot to compete in the all-around finals. According to Raisman, the victory was bittersweet. "I was really surprised. I feel awful because she [Wieber] wanted it so bad. But she should still feel proud. She's an Olympian," Raisman said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
In late July 2012, Raisman and her U.S. Olympic women's gymnastics teammates—Gabrielle Douglas, Kyla Ross, McKayla Maroney and Jordyn Wieber—took home a team gold medal. Fans worldwide watched as judges announced the team's medal win—the first gold medal for the American women's gymnastics team since 1996. Raisman went on to win a bronze medal for the beam and a second gold medal, in the individual floor exercise, at the 2012 Olympics. Since then, Raisman she took some time out of the gym to compete on Dancing With the Stars in 2013. Two years later, she became an all-around bronze medalist and World team champion.
In June 2016, Raisman was seen on Gold Medal Families, a Lifetime reality show that gives fans a glimpse into her family life. The next month, Raisman, along with Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian, officially made the 2016 U.S. Olympic team. Raisman and teammate Douglas, who was also a member of the gold medal-winning team in 2012, are the first American women gymnasts to return to the Olympics since Dominique Dawes and Amy Chow in 2000.
2016 Olympic Games
At age 22, Raisman, the oldest member of the 2016 Olympic women's gymnastics team, brought poise and experience to Rio.
"We’re going in as the best team in the world," Raisman told NBC. "So we should carry ourselves that way, not be scared and shaky because we have that pressure. It should be the opposite.
"You know, you walk in like you’re number one and I think that’s intimidating to everyone else."
She went on to help the U.S. team win gold with impressive performances on the vault, balance beam and floor routine.
Raisman shared the victory with Biles, Douglas, Hernandez and Kocian, a team which calls themselves “The Final Five.”
Raisman explained the meaning behind the team nickname on the Today Show: “We're the Final Five because this is [coach] Marta [Karolyi's] last Olympics and without her none of this would have been possible . . .We wanted to do it for her just because she's there with us every single day.”
She added: "This is the last Olympics where there's a five-girl team. The next Olympics is only going to be a four-person team."
The Final Five are the third American women’s gymnastic team to win gold, following team victories in 1996 and 2012.
Following the team competition, Raisman won a silver medal in the individual all-around competition. Teammate Simone Biles took home the gold and Russian gymnast Aliya Mustafina won bronze. It was an emotional triumph for Raisman, and the culmination of years of hard work and determination.
"I feel like I'm better now than I was in 2012," Raisman said in an ESPN interview after taking the silver medal. "I'm very proud of that. It's obviously not something people expected or that's easy to do after taking a year off and being the 'Grandma,' as everyone likes to call me. I'm happy I proved everyone wrong."
Raisman took silver again in the individual floor exercise with a score of 15.500. She is the first American gymnast to ever win a repeat Olympic medal in the floor exercise. Teammate Simone Biles won gold and Amy Tinkler of Great Britain took the bronze.
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