|Olympic Medals Won|
|Birthdate||4 February 1988|
|Birthplace||Baton Rouge, Louisiana|
Patterson was at her cousin's birthday party at Baton Rouge's Elite Gymnastics club in 1994 when coach Johnny Moyal, a three-time Israeli Olympian, noticed her talent and suggested that she begin to take lessons. Originally, her mother was hesitant about it, but Carly started tumbling and jumping around her house. There was not much room, and as her mom did not want her to get hurt, she enrolled her in gymnastics. In 2000, Patterson participated in the Top Gym Tournament in Belgium and won the silver medal in the all-around and the bronze medal for balance beam, her favorite event.
At the 2001 Goodwill Games in Brisbane, Australia, she was ranked second in the all-around before the final rotation. She missed three landings on the floor exercise, however, and finished seventh overall. "I don't know what happened," she said. "I can't give up, I will keep going. I was happy with my first three rotations, especially beam."
Patterson was named the U.S. Junior National All-Around champion in 2002. She had previously received fourth place in 2000 and third place in 2001. She then began her senior career by winning the 2003 American Cup, where she was the youngest competitor at the event, having just turned 15. This set of wins solidified her as a leading American gymnast and viable candidate for the 2004 Olympic all-around title.
She was forced to sit out the 2003 U.S. National Championships, which would have been her first Nationals event as a senior, because of a broken elbow. Although she could not compete she was able to successfully petition to the 2003 World Gymnastics Championships. At the 2003 World Gymnastics Championships in Anaheim, California, she earned the all-around silver medal —the first time an American woman had won an all-around medal at that competition since 1994. She also helped her team to earn the team gold medal, a first for the American women.
Patterson again won the all-around at the prestigious American Cup in 2004. In the first major meet of the Olympic year, she swept the competition, winning all four events and the all-around, collecting a total of $14,000 for her wins ($10,000 for the all around, $1,000 per event). Just days before the competition her coach, Evgeny Marchenko, had lost his mother. He barely arrived in time for the competition and during the meet Patterson dedicated her performance to his mother.
In 2004, she became a co-champion with Courtney Kupets in the all-around event at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships. She also won the floor exercise and placed second on balance beam.
At the 2004 Olympic trials, Patterson had two uncharacteristic falls on balance beam over the course of two days, dropping her to third place. Although she did not earn an automatic Olympic berth at this competition, her successful performances at the training camp following trials were more than enough to place her on the team.
2004 Summer Olympics
At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Patterson competed as an all-around athlete in the preliminary competition, finishing first overall and qualifying for the all-around and balance beam finals. The United States faced difficulties in the team final, and Carly had her share of mishaps. She under-rotated her vault, stubbed the low bar with her foot, and her beam routine was marred by wobbles and a lunge forward on the dismount; only on floor did she perform as well as she was capable of. She later admitted to being distracted after a rushed start on vault, with her coach saying, "The beginning of the competition was stressful. It set the tone." The U.S. Women, the reigning world champions, settled for silver.
The Individual All-Around proved to be the much-anticipated battle between Patterson and legendary three-time World all-around champion Svetlana Khorkina. After scoring lower than usual on the vault (9.375), Patterson was stronger on her last three events, scoring 9.575 on uneven bars, 9.725 on the balance beam, and 9.712 on the floor exercise. She won the gold medal, only the second American woman to do so, and the first American woman to ever win the Olympic all-around title in a non-boycotted Olympic Games. Mary Lou Retton was the first American woman ever to win the title, at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, but because those Games were boycotted by the Soviet Union, meaning Retton did not face stiff competition from the Soviet gymnasts (who consistently dominated the sport during that period, accounting in 1984 for six of the seven previous Olympic all-around champions and nine of the ten previous World all-around champions), Patterson's victory had a unique significance.
On August 23, 2004 she competed in the finals for the beam event where she received a score of 9.775 and won the silver medal behind Cătălina Ponor of Romania.
Leading up to the 2004 Olympic Games, she was prepared by her two former Soviet coaches: the famous Russian acrobat Evgeny Marchenko, who immigrated to the United States from Latvia after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and Natalya Boyarskaya.
Soon after the Olympic games ended, it was discovered that Patterson had several bulging disks in her lower back that had gone unnoticed. She announced her intention to take time off from the sport to rehabilitate her back, but she officially retired from the sport in 2006 without ever participating in another major competition. She recalled the decision in a 2009 interview, saying, "I started having some back issues, and honestly, my doctor was like, ‘Carly, you really need to stop if you want to be able to walk when you get older’... So I retired and moved on to singing." Her coach said in a TV interview, "It's hard to top an all-around gold."
She stayed occupied with event appearances, gymnastics-related and otherwise. She also landed a number of high profile corporate sponsorships; she appeared in a Mobile ESPN commercial aired during Super Bowl XL. She also finished her authorized biography, which was released in April 2006.
Honors and awards
Patterson was chosen for the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2009.
2004 Mr. Pinstripe Suit by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Her Gold Medal Winning Floor Routine
- ↑ Texas Cable News: Gymnast's world full of determination, dreams
- ↑ Carly Patterson's Official Website
- ↑ Romanian Sabina Cojocar Earns Goodwill Games All-Around Gold usa-gymnastics.org, September 2, 2001
- ↑ Carly Patterson's Official Website
- ↑ Romania wins gold in women's gymnastics, U.S. silver, USAToday.com, August 17, 2004
- ↑ World Championship results 1954-2007
- ↑ Olympic Games results 1896-2004
- ↑ Carly Patterson Interview - 2009 Visa Championships - Women - Day 1, usagymnasticsorg, YouTube.com, August 18, 2009
- ↑ Carly Patterson Chosen for Gymnastics Hall of Fame SI.com, February 3, 2009