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Gymnast: Shannon Miller

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Gymnast Shannon Miller competes at the 1993 World Gymnastics Championships

Shannon Miller at the 1993 worlds

© Chris Cole / Getty Images
Gymnast: Shannon Miller

Shannon Miller at the 1996 Olympics

© 2008 Steve Lange

Shannon Miller dominated the early to mid '90s, winning seven Olympic medals and nine World Championship medals, including two consecutive world all-around titles.

An Impressive Rookie:

Miller's first World Championships appearance was in 1991, at age 14. She excelled, helping the young American team (Kim Zmeskal, Kerri Strug, Betty Okino, Michelle Campi, and Hilary Grivich) to a team silver – the highest US finish in history at that time.

Individually, Miller tied for the silver (with eventual 1992 Olympic all-around champion Tatiana Gutsu) on bars. After Worlds, many gymnasts and fans regarded Miller as one of the major Olympic contenders for the first time. (Watch Miller on bars)

A Freak Injury and Miraculous Comeback:

In March of 1992, Miller dislocated her elbow in a training accident on bars. She underwent emergency surgery and a screw was inserted in her elbow. Though she was unable to compete in the optional portion of the US nationals that year, she was healthy enough to do the compulsories. She took first in compulsories, then won the 1992 Olympic Trials in June, this time competing in both compulsories and optionals.

Miller vs. Zmeskal:

In 1992 the media was focused, for the most part, on two American gymnasts: Shannon Miller and Kim Zmeskal. Zmeskal was the three-time US national champion, but Miller won the Olympic Trials and seemed to be peaking at just the right time. To add to the rivalry, the two gymnasts had contrasting styles: Zmeskal was powerful and charismatic when she performed, while Miller was more serious, letting her impressive array of skills speak for themselves.

The 1992 Games:

Few gymnasts have ever matched Miller's incredible performance at the Barcelona Olympics. She earned five medals, the most of any American athlete at the 1992 Games, and successfully hit all sixteen of her routines.

Miller led the US team to a bronze medal, then earned a silver (to Tatiana Gutsu) in the individual all-around, by only .012. Some experts felt she deserved gold, and the result is still debated today.

Miller qualified to all four event finals and won medals in three of them: silver on beam and bronze on bars and floor. She is one of only three American gymnasts to have won five medals in a single Games (Mary Lou Retton and Nastia Liukin are the other two).

Back-to-Back World Champ:

In 1993, Miller filled in one of the few lines missing from her illustrious resume: a major all-around victory. She took the world all-around title in impressive fashion, qualifying first on every event in preliminaries, then edging out Romania's Gina Gogean for the win in the all-around finals by .007. She followed up her victory with golds on bars and floor as well, despite competing with a nagging stomach bug.

At the 1994 worlds Miller was slowed in the training beforehand by a pulled stomach muscle. But she put it all together in the competition, winning a second consecutive all-around title. Miller is the only US gymnast to have accomplished this feat.

Her Second Olympics:

In 1996, Miller won her second US national title (her first was in 1993), but sat out the Olympic Trials due to tendonitis in her wrist. She successfully petitioned to use her nationals scores at Trials, and was named to the team.

With Olympic veterans such as Miller, Dominique Dawes, and Kerri Strug, the 1996 American team was even stronger than the 1992 one had been. The US women, dubbed "The Magnificent Seven" earned gold – the first American women's team to become Olympic champions.

Miller was again considered a prime contender for the Olympic all-around title, but a low landing and an out of bounds deduction on floor left her in eighth. She rallied for the beam finals, however, winning gold in her final routine of the 1996 Games. (Watch Miller's beam routine)
 

An Unlikely Comeback:

In 2000 Miller returned to gymnastics to attempt a third Olympics. She performed solidly on uneven bars at the 2000 US nationals (9.65), but was forced to withdraw from the Olympic Trials after suffering a minor knee injury on vault, and wasn't named to the team.

Cool Skills:

Miller was well-known for her tricky skills across all four events. She performed a hop full to Gienger (at :08) on uneven bars, a back dive to immediate full pirouette (at 2:19), three-layout series (at :38), and full-in dismount (at 1:23) on beam, and a double layout and whip through to full-in (at :15) on floor.

In 1991 and 1992 especially, Miller was regarded as having some of the highest difficulty levels in the world.

Personal Info:

Miller was born on March 19, 1977 in Rolla, Missouri to Ron and Claudia Miller. Sister Tessa was born in 1975. Miller began gymnastics in 1982, and was coached as an elite gymnast by Steve Nunno and Peggy Liddick at Dynamo Gymnastics.

Miller graduated in 2003 with a BBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from the University of Houston, then attended the Boston College School of Law. She married Chris Phillips in 1999, but the pair divorced seven years later. Miller re-married in 2007, to John Falconetti, president of Drummond Press, a printing company. She has two children -- Rocco, born in October 2009, and Sterling, born in June of 2013.More on what Miller’s doing now

Gymnastics Results:

International:
  • 1996 Olympic Games: 1st team; 8th all-around; 8th vault; 1st beam;
  • 1995 World Championships: 3rd team; 7th bars; 4th beam
  • 1994 World Championships (team): 2nd team
  • 1994 World Championships (individual): 1st all-around; 1st beam
  • 1993 World Championships: 1st all-around; 1st bars; 1st floor
  • 1992 Olympic Games: 3rd team; 2nd all-around; 3rd bars; 2nd beam; 3rd floor
  • 1991 World Championships: 2nd team; 6th all-around; 6th vault; 2nd bars; 6th beam; 6th floor
National:
  • 2000 US Nationals: 2nd bars
  • 1996 US Nationals: 1st all-around
  • 1995 US Nationals: 2nd all-around; 1st vault; 3rd floor
  • 1994 US Nationals: 2nd all-around; 2nd vault; 2nd bars; 2nd beam; 2nd floor
  • 1993 US Nationals: 1st all-around; 2nd vault; 1st bars; 3rd beam; 1st floor
  • 1992 Olympic Trials: 1st all-around
  • 1991 US Nationals: 7th all-around; 1st beam

 

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