Athens gymnastics champion returns to Olympics

BY foxsports • July 27, 2012

Eight years later, Athens gymnastics champion Carly Patterson is getting the Olympic experience.

Patterson, the first U.S. woman to win the Olympic title since Mary Lou Retton, is back at the Summer Games for the first time since winning her gold medal.

She's doing work for sponsors - she sung the national anthem at the opening of P&G's U.S. Family Home on Friday morning - but she's also going to have a chance to go to some events and soak up the Olympic atmosphere, something she couldn't really do in Athens.

''I was very focused,'' she said. ''Thinking back, I wish I would have taken it in more. So it's so cool to be here and take it all in this way and, honestly, I'm glad to take it all in from the stands.''

Back problems forced Patterson, now 24, to retire after Athens, where she also won silver medals with the U.S. team and on balance beam. She appeared on ''Celebrity Duets,'' a reality singing competition, and recorded an album, ''Back to the Beginning.'' But she soon realized that establishing herself as a singer would take as much time and work as gymnastics had, and decided she preferred a normal life.

She is finishing university, and she and fiance Mark Caldwell are getting married Nov. 3. Though she makes the occasional appearance for sponsors and USA Gymnastics, she hardly ever thinks about the fact she's an Olympic champion. She doesn't even keep her gold medal at her house near Dallas, but she does have the leotard she wore for the all-around and her grips in a frame in the basement.

''Honestly, in my everyday life at home, I'm no one special. Just Carly, going about my everyday life, cleaning my house,'' she said, laughing. ''So it feels really nice to actually be reminded of what I've done because I don't think about it a lot. And I am proud of it.''

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Follow Nancy Armour at www.twitter.com/nrarmour


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