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Aly Raisman: From London to Rio

Aly Raisman at London Olympics and on Rio beach
USA Today Sports/NBC Universal

Aly Raisman: From London to Rio

The team captain of the U.S. women's gymnastics team at the 2012 Olympics is leading the way to Rio.

Aly Raisman left the 2012 London Olympics as the most decorated U.S. gymnast, winning three medals—gold in the team competition and on the floor exercise, and bronze on balance beam—and placing fourth in the all-around. The then-18-year-old made the most of her post-London opportunities before returning to gymnastics training and beginning her journey to Rio. Here’s a look back at what Raisman did in the last quadrennial.

September 2012: Performing with the Kellogg's Tour of Champions

After a slew of media appearances—Raisman popped up everywhere from the MTV Video Music Awards and The Late Show with David Letterman to a Red Sox Game and the New York Stock Exchange—Raisman and the Fierce Five embarked on a 40-city tour of the U.S. with the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions. Along with fellow London Olympians Jonathan Horton, Jake Dalton and John Orozco, Beijing Olympians Nastia Liukin and Alicia Sacramone and others, Raisman performed her gold-medal winning routines in front of fans. There were also gymnastics performances set to music with fun costumes, and a show-stopping piece where the Fierce Five sat in oversized Olympic rings as they rised up above the arena floor. 

November 2012: Making her first appearance on Dancing with the Stars

Before joining the show as a competitor, Raisman and her Olympic teammates made a guest appearance on the “Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars” finale. Dancing in the freestyle routine of fellow Olympian Shawn Johnson and partner Derek Hough, the Fierce Five added a few extra flips to the competition.

 November 2012: Building her professional career

Raisman turned professional before the Olympics, forgoing her NCAA eligibility and a spot on the University of Florida gymnastics team. It paid off, as she quickly picked up a load of sponsors in the months following London, including Poland Spring Water and Pandora Jewelry. She also started designing a line of leotards for GK Elite.

January 2013: Walking the red carpet at the Golden Globes

Raisman showed her glamorous side at the Golden Globes in January 2013. Attending with teammate Gabby Douglas as well as fellow Olympians Missy Franklin, Carmelita Jeter and Evan Lysacek, Raisman wowed in a low-cut black gown. She confessed later that she wasn’t exactly a natural on the red carpet; while she may have no problem staying on the four-inch balance beam, she took a tumble down some stairs with everyone watching.

March 2013: Competing on Dancing with the Stars

From March to May 2013, Raisman competed on Dancing with the Stars. From the tango to afro jazz, Raisman showed off her versatility and sassy personality with partner Mark Ballas. Raisman made it to the final four round but was then eliminated. She said she wasn’t disappointed, because she enjoyed the experience and was proud of how much she improved. Unlike the Olympics, this wasn’t about the podium—it was about the journey. 

June 2013: Returning to to gymnastics training

After nearly a year out of the gym, Raisman returned to Brestyan's Gym in Burlington, Massachusetts to train again under her longtime coach, Mihai Brestyan. He welcomed her back—with the stipulation that she be committed 100% to getting back into Olympic shape. He made her undergo months of conditioning before allowing her to do any actual gymnastics skills. 

"The first six months that I came back to gymnastics, Mihai would barely coach me,. It's almost like he would give the younger ones more attention, so that I would want to work harder."

Aly Raisman

July 2013: Lighting the torch at the Maccabiah Games
Raisman traveled with her family to Jerusalem to watch the Maccabiah Games, a Jewish sporting event held in Israel. The event had special meaning for Raisman, who is Jewish and used the Israeli folk song Hava Nagila as her floor music in 2012. Raisman didn't compete but played a role in the Opening Ceremony by lighting the torch. The Raisman family also took the opportunity to travel the country and even took a camel tour.
August 2013: Being inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame
The Fierce Five reunited in Hartford, CT to be celebrate their induction to the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney were the second U.S. women's team ever (after the Magnificent Seven in 1996) to win Olympic gold. 
February 2014: Partnering with Walden Behavioral Care to promote positive body image
Raisman was chosen as a spokesperson for a Massachusetts-based treatment, education and research center for eating disorders. She made appearances and taped public service announcements to help Walden spread the message "Love your body." The president of Walden said, "As a successful gymnast and dancer, Aly can discuss body image issues in a manner that will reach and inspire our patients, while also serving as a role model."
October 2014: Attending her first national team training camp post-Olympics

Raisman originally hoped to return to competition in 2014, but decided to wait until she was more prepared. In October 2014, more than a year after she restarted training, she showed Martha Karolyi, the national team coordinator, that she was ready to rejoin the ranks of elite gymnastics. Raisman, along with Gabby Douglas, attended training camp with the U.S. women's national team at the Karolyi Ranch in Texas. A month later, Karolyi officially added both Raisman and Douglas back onto the national team, setting them up to compete in early 2015.

March 2015: Competing at the City of Jesolo Trophy

Raisman made her long-awaited competitive return at the 2015 City of Jesolo Trophy in Italy. Competing against teams from Italy, Canada, Australia and France, Raisman and the Americans easily won the team gold (and celebrated by wrangling Karolyi into a group selfie). Individually, Raisman showed she was back in medal-worthy shape by taking bronzes in the all-around and floor exercise. 

May 2015: Turning 21 years old

Now officially a legal adult, Raisman celebrated her 21st birthday on May 25th. But on her coach's orders, she didn't partake in any adult beverages.

June 2015: Joining the Boston 2024 Olympic bid

A native of Needham, Massachusetts, a suburb about 40 minutes from Boston, Raisman fused her hometown pride with her Olympic enthusiasm when she joined the board of the Boston 2024, a bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. Raisman and her coach, Mihai Brestyan, filmed a short video in support of the bid explaining why Boston would make a great Olympic host. Unfortunately Boston 2024 didn't go very far; in late July, Boston and the U.S. Olympic Committee decided to end Boston’s Olympic bid. 

June 2015: Posing for the ESPN Body Issue

No longer a shy teenager, now 21-year-old Raisman posed nude for ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue. Along with Olympians like swimmer Natalie Coughlin and basketball player Kevin Love, Raisman appeared in the issue celebrating the many types of athletic bodies. Raisman’s tasteful photoshoot included doing a split leap in the air and a handstand against the wall, along with poses on the balance beam and the still rings. She said she was really nervous when she first agreed to participate, but by the end of the six-hour shoot “I was just so comfortable I could have walked to Starbucks naked. … Not that I would do that.”

July 2015: Competing at the Secret U.S. Classic

At her first meet on American soil since the 2012 Olympic Trials, Raisman showed she was almost, but not quite, back to her peak form. Her new floor routine include a piked double Arabian—a half twist followed by two front flips in the piked position—directly into a tucked front flip, but Raisman didn’t get the height she needed and sat down the landing. She was much cleaner on the beam, earning the second-highest score. Her combined total landed her in fifth place in the all-around, while Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas and Maggie Nichols took the top three spots.  

August 2015: Winning all-around bronze at the P&G Championships

At the national championships, the final American meet before the 2015 World Championships, Aly Raisman showed uncharacteristic nerves when she fell off the beam on the first day of the competition. She rebounded with strong performances on her other events to win the all-around bronze. In the floor event Raisman took gold, edging out three-time national champion Simone Biles, who fell during a tumbling pass on the first day.

October 2015: Rallying after mistakes at the world championships

Raisman wasn’t at her strongest on the first day of the 2015 World Championships—after falling off the uneven bars, going out of bounds on floor exercise and looking unsteady on the balance beam, she was ranked fifth in the all-around qualification round. For any other gymnast, being fifth in the world on an off day would be incredible, but Raisman called it one of the worst meets in her life. Since Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas had finished ahead of her, the two-per-country rule prevented Raisman from competing in the all-around final. She didn’t qualify for the beam or floor individual finals either, giving her only one more chance—the team final—to win a world championships medal.  Shaking off her earlier nerves, Raisman gave two steady performances on beam and floor to help the U.S. women win the gold.

Why Aly Raisman's mom told her, 'If you want to stop now, it's OK'

The 2012 Olympic gymnast's parents "didn't necessarily want me to come back" for Rio, Raisman said. 

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November 2015: Adopting a puppy, Gibson, from the NBC Olympics media summit

Raisman attended the NBC Olympics media summit in West Hollywood, California before Thanksgiving. One of the photo shoots involved posing with adorable dogs, and it was puppy love at first sight for Raisman and the sweet little maltipoo. She adopted Gibson and brought him home to Massachusetts.

March 2016: Starting her season at the City of Jesolo Trophy

A year after making her gymnastics comeback official at the 2015 City of Jesolo competition, Raisman returned to Italy. Showing some of the same nerves that affected her at world championships, Raisman sat down on the landing of her vault and finished fifth in the all-around. She was stronger in event finals, winning floor gold and balance beam bronze.

April 2016: Claiming four medals at the Pacific Rim Championships

The U.S. women competed against countries located around the Pacific Ocean, such as Canada, Japan and Australia, at the Pacific Rim Championships in Everett, Wash. Raisman and her team easily won gold, and Raisman edged out 15-year-old Laurie Hernandez to win all-around silver by one tenth of a point. She also won floor exercise gold and balance beam silver.

June 2016: Showing she’s Rio-ready at the Secret U.S. Classic and P&G Championships

Raisman competed twice in June, winning seven total medals. First, she won all-around gold at the Secret U.S. Classic—but since the majority of her fellow Olympic front-runners, like Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas, opted to do only two events at Classics, the win itself was less important than how she won. Looking calm and confident, Raisman competed cleanly and had the highest scores on vault and floor, plus the third highest score on beam.

A few weeks later at the P&G Championships, Raisman nearly secured her ticket to Rio by outscoring everyone but Biles, who won her fourth consecutive all-around national championships title. She also won silvers, again behind Biles, on the balance beam and floor.  

June 2016: Stepping out with Feat by Aly socks

Raisman has been involved in the fashion world for years, designing her own line of leotards with GK Elite. She expanded her fashion brand into socks when she partnered with FEAT. The always patriotic Raisman used red, white and blue in many of her sock designs. 

July 2016: Going for her second Olympics at the U.S. Women's Gymnastics Olympic Trials

Raisman competed for a spot on the five-woman Rio squad at the Olympic Trials on July 8 and 10. Looking every inch the confident veteran, Raisman placed third in the all-around and notched top-three scores on three events at Trials. 

Q&A with Aly Raisman

U.S. gymnast Aly Raisman shares her superstitions, skincare secrets and what athlete she's determined to meet in Rio. 

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Everything you need to know about the 2016 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team

Simone Biles | Gabby Douglas | Laurie Hernandez | Madison Kocian | Aly Raisman | Chris Brooks | Jake Dalton | Danell Leyva | Sam Mikulak | Alex Naddour


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