Top 10 US gymnasts of all time: Nominations

Catherine and I are having a mini argument in the comments section about what it takes to be considered a Best of anything. IMO you have to have been there and proved yourself to be considered the best. Catherine thinks differently so I would like to know what you think.

Who would you nominate for the Best US gymnasts of all time? You get ten choices. Than tell me how you came to this conclusion . What mattered to you when making this decision. Were medals won a consideration or did you take into consideration just how fixed certain aspects of USA-gymnastics can be.

Here is a website that lists the medals won by each US gymnast. I don’t believe it is updated with the current Olympics.

Here is the individual pages for gymnasts where you can look up full medal count.


My list, which is not done yet is pretty easy but only when it comes to,

Number one. Shannon Miller. There is no debate in my mind and honestly I don’t even care what the future gymnasts accomplish I don’t think Shannon Miller’s name will ever be anything but number one. The competition now is way too weak to even compare with what Miller had to deal with.

She competed against the Soviets and she won. She should have been the 1992 Olympic AA champion. She made all 4 event finals at 3 World Championships ( 91, 93 and 95) and one of the two Olympics she competed at, a first for a US gymnast. (Something no other US gymnast has ever done mind you) Shannon also competed injured her entire career and she still won. I can only imagine what she might have done in 93, 94 , 95 and 96 if she did not have a pulled stomach muscle or a bad ankle or surgery to have a pin out in her arm or whatever other big injury she was dealing with. Everyone competes injured but not like Shannon did.

Her two AA wins (in 1993 and 1994) did not involve the Soviet system being in existence but the gymnasts she did beat were learned their basics under that system. Do you think Lilia Podkopayeva would have been half the gymnast she was if she had trained under Ukraine when learning the basics? The answer to that is simple, no.

Number 2 is actually locked up already too and as much as I can’t stand her as a person and I find her overrated as a gymnast you can’t really argue with her medal count (individual medals maybe but overall you do not win 14 World or Olympic medals without some talent.)

So Nastia should take second. The only real knock I have with Nastia is her two AA medals (at worlds in 05 and the Olympics in 08) were literally won by competing with only one other gymnast(Chellsie in 2005 where she was second and Shawn in 2008) No offense to Monette Russo but that was the third place finisher in 2005. The event Finals were not much better.

Here is where it gets tough.

88 Responses to “Top 10 US gymnasts of all time: Nominations”

  1. Case Says:

    I think all the individual world or Olympic champions have to be in the discussion, simply because they proved themselves on the biggest stage. So that list contains Retton, Nastia, Gabby, Zmeskal, Shannon, Memmel, Sloan, Shawn and Jordyn.

    • terrigymfan Says:

      I’m thinking about my list but first want to say I agree with Case that what you just said is right in my book about who definitely should be in the Top 10, especially since right now I can’t think of a gymnast not among those Case listed who was that great and should be above any of them.

      • terrigymfan Says:

        Actually I take that back. I think Dawes definitely should be on the list and certainly higher than some of those mentioned. There might be someone else so I don’t want to speak too soon.

      • gymtruthteller Says:

        Dawes will most likely be on my list but she has been passed. She had more opportunities than most and never could capitalize on it. 3 olympics and only a handful of individual medals does not trump someone that could put it together when it mattered.


      • terrigymfan Says:

        She won’t be high on my list. I’m thinking around 8 or 9.

      • gymtruthteller Says:

        I have to do some more re-search because I want to include or at least consider some older gymnasts without the success. Someone that’s success might be less in medals but might have helped make the way for what we have now.

      • sanitynmotion Says:

        I would only include Dawes because of her longevity in this sport that literally has none. But I agree, she’d be in the last 3 slots. I think longevity and medal count both matter most. World medals, too – more than national. Home cooking should be irrelevant.

        Shannon is my #1, no doubt.

        I didn’t want to put Nastia as #2…I actually am more tempted to put Shawn but unfortunately Nastia had more longevity and won the AA Olympic prize (that I also have trouble with her deserving with a 1.5 twisting vault – she only won because of the bars’ code at the time)…

        I would also include Case’s choices. Yet how funny since if Sloan hadn’t won that Worlds gold in ’09, and Bross won it, would Bross have replaced Sloan? Although Bross never made an Olympic team.

        Gabby wouldn’t even have made this list had she not won the last Olympic AA gold – funny she couldn’t be up to snuff in ANY of the Olympic event finals.

        I would actually put Aly ahead of Jordyn…team gold, individual FX gold (first American with that prize ever, no?), and even though couldn’t put it together for a worlds gold I don’t think Aly is done and she always hit when it counted for the team (and hit the individual EF apparatuses at the Olympics…) her only issue as we know is the AA competition. She always does well qualifying for the AA but then makes major mistakes in the AA.

        I might be enticed to put ASac on this list for longevity and world medal counts; I really believe had she made the London team she would have come back with the vault gold. In fact, I think I’d put ASac over Dawes, even though ASac epic failed in the Olympic team comp. Dawes had meltdowns too but at least ASac had more medals, and got really solid on the apparatus that caused her to miss out on the 2004 Olympic team.

        Still have to put my whole “list” together but those are my thoughts.

      • gymtruthteller Says:

        Longevity for Dawes was kind of a joke. She walked on to the 2000 team because Atler choked and Miller got injured. Other wise she is 91-96 like Miller, Borden and Strug. Miller won a bar silver medal in 2000 and 3rd at the 3 x 3 event at the 97 American cup. Dawes has the Olympic team member with an asterisk. Again she is very lucky.

        I compare Dawes to Aly and Aly trumps her. Aly has an individual gold medal and a 4th place AA Olympic to go with some more 4th places.

        Dawes has like 2 or 3 individual medals at worlds and 1 at the Olympics. Aly’s gold trumps that. Aly also has a world floor medal.

      • gymtruthteller Says:

        I didn’t even realize this new comment was an old

    • Case Says:

      Shit I completely forgot Patterson on my list above. She is so easy to forget that she actually might no be on my list at all.

      • terrigymfan Says:

        Poor Carly. Definitely the Rodney Dangerfield of gymnastics.

      • gymtruthteller Says:

        Carly was a great gymnast but instead of capitalizing on it she tried to sing.

        I liked Carly thought she was great on beam and good on bars and vault but that floor routine was horrific.

      • Dee Says:

        I often fail to remember her, as well. She really didn’t have much of a personality to me, and once I heard a story from someone that went to that fake school they all go to if they train at WOGA and the person said she was a huge blow job queen. I hate to say it, but that really ruined the allure of “Olympic Champion” for me when it came to her.

      • sanitynmotion Says:

        Dee: ew, really? She was giving blow jobs during her gymnast career? Yikes.

        I really liked Teryn Humphrey’s gymnastics but she never really did much in terms of individual success. Although I can’t remember her vault – really liked her bars/beam. Her floor was decent too if I remember. She wouldn’t make this list though.

        I also liked Courtney McCool’s gymnastics but she was a headcase.

        Carly should be on the list if Gabby is on the list.

  2. catherine Says:

    Ooo interesting. I made my top 10 a while ago, but there was no American on it. I think ‘best’ gymnasts lists are a bit boring as they tend to only take medals and longevity into account. There’s a reason why gogean appears on nobodys lists, but if that is the only criteria allowed she should be right up there. I tend to prize gymnasts who are true all arounders, exceptional on some events, amazing innovators or who are just very exciting. Now that i think about it i think i stuck maroney in my list as she is very exciting and has an exceptional event, but she would definitely not be in my list if i made it everyday.

    Anyway. Best. I would stick Shawn in it. Reasons being she was far more of a true all arounder than nastia, had very high difficulty, won quite a few medals in a seriously short career and has great form. I also want to put vise in it, for getting a bars title, placing well against strong competition with higher difficulty in the US and having extremely elegant routines and great flexibility- basically being exciting and great to watch.

    Struggling now.. I also want to put Dawes in. Very strong all-arounder, and exciting floor worker in the early 90s. Superb Hindorff, original ‘flying squirrel’. Made it to 3 olympics, though of course she threw away an aa medal in Atlanta and was past her peak in Sydney.

    Doris Fuchs brause for unleashing a totally different style on uneven bars and shocking everyone. She was of course absolutely lowballed for it, but definitely made her mark and paved the way.

  3. gingercrush Says:

    But they’re all awful😉

    Um Shawn, Nastia, Sacramone, Retton, 2004 AA winner whose name I’ve forgotten, Dawes, Kim whose last name I’ve forgotten, the 70s/80s beam lady.


    • gingercrush Says:

      OOOps. I forgot Miller, lol.

      Of the 2012 squad. Raisman.

    • gymtruthteller Says:

      LOL, I love this comment. It made me laugh.

      This is tougher than it looks.

    • sainabou nyang Says:

      Gingercrush are you referring to Cathy Rigby aka peter pan as 70/80 beam lady?

      • terrigymfan Says:

        If he is it really should be 60/70 beam lady since Rigby competed in the late 60’s and early 70’s. She appeared nude on balance beam in a soft-focus photo spread in Sports Illustrated once, I think around 1972. Maybe that’s why gingercrush is calling her the “beam lady.” LOL

  4. sanitynmotion Says:

    You guys know way more than I do when it comes to this. I love love LOOOOOOVE and can’t agree more on Shannon Miller. She effing dominated a DECADE in a sport where you’re lucky to dominate two years in a row. It seriously pisses me off she isn’t given red carpet treatment by USAG. They are blowhard fools.

    I’d stick Nastia on the list as well (begrudgingly) and Shawn for sure – for reasons Catherine stated above. I tend to really admire the true “competitors” out there; those where you can watch them compete without having to go hide and cross your fingers and pray they don’t mess up. I think this way of Aly Raisman but wouldn’t put her on this list only because she had bad form and gymnastics-wise just never really did “it” for me. Sorry.

    I want to eventually put Kyla Ross on this list.

    I also think Jordyn is a very solid all arounder who did not benefit from what her coach did this past year (given beam connections) but overall she is a talented great in my mind (athletically, competitively). Kind of under-rated in my book. If she had a second vault she would have made all four event finals in Worlds in 2011, for sure.

    I’ll be honest and say I don’t know of many gymnasts before Miller (not even just US…in general) but I don’t think Mary Lou belongs on this list. At all. She and Carly Patterson should go on the “over rated” list in my book. Ok, maybe not Carly – but IMO it should be Carly who’s given Shannon Miller’s USAG treatment, not Miller. So leave Carly off all lists and just ignore her completely.

    I agree about Hollie Vice. Let’s have her and Chellsie share a spot for being able to stick one to Marta. And Chellsie gets double points for beating Nastia in 2005, lol.

    Dominique Dawes can be on this list for longevity and how she was unique with that second tumbling pass, but honestly I’d put her towards the bottom.

    Honestly the US hasn’t put out that many of what I’d consider “greats!”

    Just Shannon Miller. Who needs top ten. Top one. ‘Nuff said.

    • Case Says:

      Shannon is my #1 too. I think Memmel deserves her own spot on the list somewhere.

    • GymMom Says:

      I agree with you on Dawes longevity. 3 Olympics is no joke.

    • sanitynmotion Says:

      I forgot I even wrote my comment above. Wow. And I’m adding to this diatribe like I never commented on it before, so my apologies…

  5. Dee Says:

    Oh god, this sucks. So many good points.

    I would not have even thought of Dawes, but you can’t deny that 3 Olympics is the real deal. Thanks GymMom.

    Is it bad that I don’t know if I would put Shawn on my list? Even though I feel like all the World and Olympic AA champions should be…but then again noone remembers even half of them outside of the gym world.

    I think for me a big factor is the top 10 household names when it comes to USA gymnasts. There were some gymnasts that everyone remembers, whether it was for an awesome skill they could do (Maroney) or for their story/meltdown (Atler). I feel like that should have something to do with it?

    But best of the best? gah. I think I 100% would put Shannon as #1 and cement her there (no question as to why) and Nastia (she did win a shit ton of medals, can’t deny that – please noone beat me to a pulp for that) and Kupets (she spanked NCAA’s ass, and we can’t forget the achilles – twice!). The rest of my list may never be complete. I feel as though there are so many I want to add, but I can’t decide if I want to add them for their gymnastics achievements or because they are still popular now (like Shawn). I want to have a list based solely on gym achievements, but it is hard for me to weigh one gymnast’s career over another.

  6. Sarah! Says:

    This is easy. Top 10 U.S. gymnasts of all time:

    1. Shannon Milller
    2. Rebecca Bross ( because she’s so sexy and beautiful)
    6. Amanda Borden, for the same reason as #2
    9. The ghost of Christy Henrich, because she did what she wanted to do.


  7. Monica Says:


    I don’t really pay that much attention to the US squad though, but that’s pretty much my list. Douglas, Wieber, Raisman, Patterson are all interchangeable for those last two spots.

  8. JAS4 Says:

    Shannon Miller(Owned the 90s), Jordyn Wieber(tough competitor, many medals, and classy) Aly Raisman(most decorated USA gymnast of 2012 Olympics and can be counted on to hit when needed) Nastia Liukin(even though I’d like to pretend otherwise lol), Shawn Johnson(world,Olympic,national,etc…..)Chellsie Memmel(tough an pulled through for team
    USA on several occasions), Alicia Sacramone( tons of medals and a crazy comeback) Clara Schroth( she may not have the medal count or difficulty of others but she was a 6 time National AA Champion between 1945-52 and two time Olympian), Courtney Kupets( she has a good many medals and made a great comeback in a short amount of time), and Rebecca Bross( She has a ton of Medals from various national and international competitions)
    1. Shannon Miller
    2. Nastia Liukin
    3. Shawn Johnson
    4. Aly Raisman
    5. Jordyn Wieber
    6. Chellsie Memmel
    7. Alicia Sacramone
    8. Courtney Kupets
    9. Rebecca Bross
    10. Clara Schroth
    (Mostly based on Olympic results, then international results, then National)
    (I also ranked most of the AAers ahead of ASac because she was a specialist)

    • sainabou nyang Says:

      Im a big history buff and I’ve always been curious about us female gymnasts prior to the 1970s. Never heard of Clara.Which Olympics did she go to?

      • JAS4 Says:

        1948 and 1952 It’s harder to find information on the gymnast before the 1970s I guess because during the 70s is when the U.S. started gaining more respect in the gymnastics world

  9. Catherine Says:

    • Catherine Says:

      Here is Doris Fuchs Brause (USA..) at the 1966 worlds. This was the first routine to break away from the stop-start-handstand habit they all had going on, Continous swing was a bit of a WTF then, and that awesome hecht transition was also seen as shocking. She was absolutely crucified with her score. Still, innovator!

      I think my list looks something like..

      1. Shannon Miller
      2. Shawn Johnson
      3. Nastia Liukin (beaten by Shawn for not being a true all-arounder)
      4. Dominique Dawes
      5. Cathy Rigby
      6. Doris Fuchs Brause
      7. Aly Raisman
      8. Courtney Kupets


      9. Hollie Vise
      10. Carly Patterson

      And yes I would want to put Atler in because she was talented enough to belong in this list. But the meltdown at every turn ruins it.

      • sanitynmotion Says:

        Geez Catherine you’re like the guru.

        Sometimes I feel like the “old bars” were more interesting than bars today. The whole routine was very fluid and original.

      • Catherine Says:

        Ha I’ve had a lot of free time the last while to soak up knowledge.

        Wayyy more interesting. Emilia Eberle is my favourite. There’s a move called the Burda..Tourischeve did it..where they do a full twist when they transition to the low bar, love it. It’s amamazing that all of the releases have been done for decades, because barely any of the originators had the benefit of giants for momentum.

  10. christina Says:

    For me
    1. Shannon hands down, she’s the ONLY american gymnast I’d consider to be up there with the all time greats and I agree, I don’t see anyone surpassing her anytime soon. No matter how many medals USAG give to Asac even if she doesn’t compete, no matter what Douglas does in the future Shannon will always be the best for me.
    2. I have to agree on Nastia too. I don’t like her, I don’t think she deserves to be compared with the Soviet greats just because she’s russian, I don’t consider her the defintion of artistry like NBC seems to do and over all I think she’s overrated but hey, she has titles, she has medals and even I don’t like her she has achieved lots of things in the sport.
    3. Dawes. Again, I don’t think she’s anywhere near close to being one of the all time greats but well, no other american except Shannon does. She had lots of headcase moments but she has some titles to be proud of, she had longevity which IMO is impoprtant and she had some great skills and enough style.
    4. Retton. Once again I hate her, I don’t think she deserved her gold (not to mention she wouldn’t even be on the podium if the Soviets were competing in those games), she had no longevity, no style but being the first olympic AA champion outside easter Europe (even though I don’t think she deserved it) is pretty darn impressive and she has inspired a ton of US gymnasts.
    5. Memmel, just for being a BAMF who proved the whole world wrong so many times, for pissing USAG and Martha so many times, competing some huge skills, having great longevity, and generally for being her.
    6. Johnson. She has medals and skills. However I believe the fact that she’s number 5 on my list of the greatest USA gymnasts of all time just proves how few great gymnasts USA has produced.
    7. I guess Patterson (ewww). She was boring, robotic, innovative on beam, had no longevity, uninspiring, immature (that aww that’s too bad when Munteanu fell in 2003 is for me 10 times worse than Komova crying or Khorkina bitching about everything) and she’s American’s first AA champion in a non boycotted games.
    8. Rigby I guess…
    9. propably Zmeskal, again I don’t think she deserved it but being the first AA world champion outside easter Europe is sth to be proud of. And she had some big tumbling.
    10. That was between Asac and Amy underrated Chow.

  11. GymMom Says:

    Who thinks $227 is reasonable for the ticket package described below for the Kellogg’s tour? I’m not going, but it’s not because of the price. I’m just not interested in seeing this cheap, tawdry show. Is anyone going or have gone to previous shows?

    Platinum VIP Package – Package includes a great seat in the first 2 rows for all the action, an exclusive gift item, access to a pre-show “Chalk Talk” where select athletes will discuss their experiences, and a post-show meet & greet/autograph session with the performers.

  12. GymMom Says:

    Here’s a portion of a review of the tour.

    “But when it came to the Fab 5, you really could never tell if they were on stage. There usually was a big crowd of performers on the mat. When there was tumbling or gymnastics going on, it wasn’t usually by the Fab 5. When the five were performing, it would have helped if the announcer would have said their name. It was hard to see who was who in the arena. And there was a bunch of filler time with a clown act that was OK-funny but not what I paid the ticket price for. At the end, the Fab 5 somehow turned into the Fab 3. I don’t know what happened to the other two. Also, most of the numbers were too sexy for the 8-10 year olds.”

    • Catherine Says:

      You would think they might have looked up why all 5 weren’t there before they posted the review? They are not exactly going to announce ‘Oh McKayla isn’t here because she injured herself doing a dismount she shouldn’t have been allowed do on our tour, and Kyla’s gone because she’s serious about school and real training and not a money-making tour’. The whole point is that while there is a focus on them, it gives gymnasts like Bross and Memmel the chance to do tricks and appeal to THEIR fans. This reviewer should have looked into it more before shelling out the money.

      • terrigymfan Says:

        It is interesting that the Kellogg’s Tour was here in Dallas on October 6 but I don’t think there was a review of it in the Dallas Morning News. Kind of surprising since one of the paper’s reporters writes fairly regularly about gymnastics given WOGA and a couple of other pretty big gyms are in the area. Only a month ago my hubby and I were planning to take our 3 kids. It was going to be about $500 to get decent seats for five. The folks on this blog tipped me off about what the Kellogg’s Tour was really going to be – a bunch of dancing and strobe lights and very little real gymnastics and very few of the Fierce Five — so we didn’t go. Thanks everyone for saving me $500. I’d like to find out what the attendance was here. I bet it didn’t do well since I heard no one talking about it.

      • Tortuga Says:

        My boyfriend bought me tickets for the Dallas show, I wasn’t going to tell him no, lol. There were hardly any empty seats that I could see. I could tell who everyone was but I was pretty close. I didn’t care for all the filler routines of just dancers, some of them with the acro gymnasts were interesting. John McCready in the baby suit was only entertaining for the first 2 min. I knew McKayla and Kyla wouldn’t be there before we went so that wasn’t a shocker. Alicia and Nastia were replaced in the rings. Nastia must’ve been exstatic, lol! There was quite a bit of real tumbling: full twisting double backs, double layouts etc. beam hardly anything spectacular, and bars I saw quite a few release moves. There were not too many “Fierce Five” routines but I was just happy to see Rebecca and Chelsie etc. Over all I was pleased. My tickets were free and I got to see some of my favorite gymnasts.

      • terrigymfan Says:

        Thanks Tortuga. Great review.

      • terrigymfan Says:

        Oh yeah. Sounds like you have a pretty nice boyfriend!

      • Tortuga Says:

        I do. I got him really involved around the Secret Classic and he’s been hooked on watching everything since. So he was actually really excited for the tour.

  13. GymMom Says:

    Here’s another review. The previous review was from the Ontario CA.

    CherylESD Valley View, San Diego
    “What a disappointment! Not much as far as gymnastics – which is why we paid the high ticket price. The entertainment between the acts was AWFUL – I cringed each time the act came on. The only part I liked was the male gymnast – they performed more then the women and it was nice to see in person how strong they are. Would NEVER go again.”

  14. GymMom Says:

    Read more here..mostly very negative reviews. Lots of comments about how DARK it is during the show and no identification of the individual gymnasts….”Shhhh don’t tell the public whose performing & they won’t notice that the fierce five aren’t all there?” #TRAINWRECKOFFTHERAILS

  15. terrigymfan Says:

    Here is my list:

    1. Shannon Miller. GTT and others on this blog have said it all on why she is at the top.

    2. Nastia Liukin. Had the greatest medal run of any US gymnast at a single Olympics. Hard to argue that’s not a major accomplishment. She also had beautiful form on beam, especially the effortless-looking and fluid way she turns flips whether backwards or forwards. Her biggest downside IMO is that she quit after one Olympics. If she had seriously trained and competed all of last quad, she might have been able to elevate her status to around the level of Shannon but of course she did not.

    3. Shawn Johnson. Her individual medal haul at the 2008 Olympics (gold and 2 silver) combined with her stellar performance at 2007 Worlds (gold in aa and floor) are quite remarkable. Very close to Nastia IMO.

    4. Kim Zmeskal. I’m ranking Kim higher than most people would, but you have to remember she was the first US World champion and won it in 1991 when the international competition was still great. Plus she won two individual golds at Worlds the following year. Her lone Olympics was disappointing, but the same can be said for almost all of the World Champions ranked lower her the list. (She did have a stress fracture in Barcelona). What sets Kim apart I think is her run of 3 straight aa national championships from 1990-92. She completely dominated the US scene for three straight years. She also had to put up with Bela and Marta as her coaches – they had the tendency to drain the blood out of every gymnast they coached (and really did that to Kim IMO whether she admits it or not). You have to give her some credit for that. Notice how no other Karolyi gymnast is on anybody’s Top 10 list (I don’t count Mary Lou since she didn’t train with them that long.)

    5. Carly Patterson. Carly has to be the most disrespected Olympic aa champion of all time. Remember though that she also won a silver on balance beam, and in 2003 won silver in the aa at Worlds. I confess I am not that familiar with Carly as far as her “form” and all that but she had a pretty good run of success at the international level, especially when you compare it with the other gymnasts below her on this list.

    6. Gabby Douglas. As much as Gabby annoys me, she did win aa gold at the Olympics, and against some pretty strong competition both on her own team and on the Russian team. But her success is nothing but that just yet. She also was a big flop in the individual events at the Olympics other than aa.

    7. Jordyn Wieber. Maybe I’m biased in placing Jo this high but I just love that girl. World champ. Yes her individual performances at the Olympics was disappointing, but her gutsy contribution to the U.S. team’s gold medal win after her disappointment in making aa finals was something special. Of course she is reigning world aa champ so that speaks a lot.

    8. Chelsie Memmel. World aa champ in 2007, plus I believe she would have won some medals in 2008 if she hadn’t gotten injured.

    9. Bridget Sloan. Dominant in 2009. World aa champ, and three golds (including aa) at Nationals. Would have been higher but didn’t do anything special at her one Olympics in 2008.

    10. Dominique Dawes. At first I was going to put Dawes higher on this list until I went back and looked at her actual record. She gets credit for longevity but really was a big flop at all three Olympics she participated in. She won one individual medal (bronze on floor in 1996) and that was it. She never did anything at Worlds either. I might have excluded her altogether but she did have two incredibly dominant performances at Nationals (1994 and 1996) so that counts for something.

    Mary Lou Retton. Quick word about Mary Lou. It seems almost unbelievable that an Olympic aa champion would not make the Top 10 list (since the US has only 4) but Mary Lou’s achievement is tainted by the fact it was a boycotted Olympics and she benefitted from home-cooking judging. She also was a “one-time” wonder quitting right after the Olympics to milk her fame. She has one thing going for her though – she did defeat one of the all-time greats for aa at the Olympics, and that was Ecaterina Czabo. Now I think Czabo got screwed by the pro-American judges but Mary Lou can say there was at least one top-notch competitor there in 1984.

  16. exgymgurl Says:

    Top 10 idiot female US gymnasts ( the ones that say stupid things or sound stupid in interviews) This is not in any particular order, these are just the dumbest ones that came to mind

    1. Carly DingDong Letterman interview where she doesnt know anything
    2. Blabby Douglas Letterman interview
    3. Shawn Johnson (bittersweet)
    4. Rhonda Faehn (the 88 fiasco)
    5. Vanessa Atler ( because bars were too complicated for her to remember her routine)
    6. Jana Bieger ( for turning pro and not leaving the US to make 10 german olympic teams)
    7. Kerri Strugg (just her voice) and even though shes well educated she always sounds vacant
    8. Dominique Moceanu ( nickname dumb dom) and while on the rock and roll competitions, she was reading magazines in between routines in front of cameras… and the lady gaga thing with her husband in the gym
    9. Elise Ray – She sounds like a truck driver no matter what she says
    10. Sam Peszeck – I am so glad this girl is in college… watch her “drea” video sometime… it sounds like the weather girl with her nipples in mean girls…

    • terrigymfan Says:

      Did you see that YouTube clip of Bruce Willis and somebody else interviewing Kerri Strug and the Mag 7 after the 1996 victory? Kerri talks about making “a boo boo” in that little girl, Betty Boop voice of hers. The whole thing is kind of creepy.

    • Case Says:

      11. Kim Kelly – girl got screwed by the establishment but she was a little odd too.
      12. Shayla Worley

    • terrigymfan Says:

      What happened in 1988 wasn’t Rhonda Faehns’ fault. It was her coaches’ fault for not knowing the rules. She was just doing what the coaches told her to do.

  17. GymMom Says:

    When you ask for nominations for top 10 gymnasts in the world, she will top my list. 6 Olympic Games!

  18. exgymgurl Says:

    Top 10 US Gymnasts for reals
    1. Shannon Miller
    2. Kim Zmeskal ( first to win a world title)
    3. Mary Lou Retton ( first to win AA gold)
    4. Nastia Liukin (her career was longer than Carly’s)
    5. Carly Patterson ( ahead of Gabby because Gabby has no individual world medals and no individual AA medals outside the olympics)
    6. Shawn Johnson (more world and olympic medals than Gabby, who has no individual event medals internationally)
    7. Gabby Douglas
    8. Chellsie Memmel (the world AA champ and the longevity)
    9. Ali Raisman ( first USA floor gold, WORKHORSE)
    10. Dominique Dawes (for 3 olympics) Cathy Rigby for all of her olympics, Kathy Johnson for revealing eating disorders, and Bridget Sloan, Jordyn Wieber for world AA gold all tied.

    I think all of the world AA champs should be on this list, but these are the most acomplished, and there is a tie at 10 because I think all of them are significant. Notice ASac is not even on the list.

    • sanitynmotion Says:

      I think I’ll take your list (since it’s nice and concise) and revise it for what I think are the top ten (if you don’t mind🙂 ):

      1. Shannon Miller
      2. Nastia Liukin
      3. Shawn Johnson
      4. Jordyn Wieber
      5. Dominique Dawes
      6. Carly Patterson
      7. Kim Zmeskal
      8. Chellsie Memmel
      9. Gabby Douglas
      10. Aly Raisman

      I booted Mary Lou because she wasn’t that “great” in my mind and was gifted her Olympic medals because the real competition wasn’t even there.

      I added Jordyn cuz she’s a world champ and battled hard for it, was significant for at least two to three years, and really was a trooper in winning that team gold. Plus she won the American Cup many years in a row and national champs as well.

      If Aly had done better at the other world champs she’d been in leading up to the Olys, I would have placed her higher.

      If Carly hadn’t won that AA, she wouldn’t be on this list at all. I would switch her placement with Gabby Douglas if it weren’t for Gabby not winning any individual world or Olympic titles (other than the AA).

      I am also placing Dawes behind Jordyn because Dawes was a turd during London, calling Jordyn “disappointing” when her whole damn career was rather “disappointing” given her missed opportunities. Hi Pot, this is Kettle. You are black.

      I agree in not having ASac on the list – she’ll make the top in comeback queens though. If she had kept bars in the mix maybe I’d put her in here.

      I don’t really know gymnasts before 1994 so …sorry.🙂

      • terrigymfan Says:

        Like your comment Sanity about Dawes. I didn’t take personality into account on my list. If I had Gabby and Dawes would not be on it at all, and Nastia would be at least a couple of notches lower. Jo, Chellsie, and Bridget would all be higher. Kim would be about the same — she’s a pretty nice person I’ve heard but boring as can be. Carly is boring too. Shannon would be much higher but she’s Number 1 anyway!

    • exgymgurl Says:

      Do we all realize that counting olympic AA gold and world AA gold medals, the US now has Mary Lou Retton, Kim Zmeskal, Shannon Miller, Carly Patterson, Chellsie Memmel, Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, Bridget Sloan, Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas… 10 that are either AA champions at Worlds or AA olympic champions. Thats kind of Amazing

  19. GymMom Says:

    I don’t think anyone has mentioned Marcia Frederick? She won a gold medal in the 1978 World Gymnastics Championship n Strasbourg, France, the first American gymnast to attain such an honor in American history. This competition was a prelude to the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow and Marcia Frederick was our No. 1 weapon.

    President Carter banned US athletes from competing in Moscow, so she missed that opportunity. Some have said she could have beaten Nadia?

    • Catherine Says:

      Well Nadia was not at her peak in 1980 and made a big error. Mukhina, Davydova, Kim and Gnauck were the other bigshots and there’s no way she would have beaten them. For some reason I always totally forget about her. There is shite all attention given to gymnasts pre- Mary Lou. Julianne McNamara was great as well (I know they were teammates, but point still stands)

  20. GymMom Says:

    Marcia Fredericks bars in 1978..first Gold for US gymmast. I think Cathy Rigby is doing the commentary.

  21. Sarah Says:

    Shannon Miller would be number 1, and my list would also include Shawn Johnson and Jordyn Wieber.

    Gabby would not be on my list, because she didn’t earn that AA gold. If she had been judged fairly and not blatantly overscored on every apparatus, she wouldn’t have even been competing for the AA. She’s one of the most overrated gymnasts I’ve seen, and her attitude alone would keep her off the list if it wasn’t the fact that she’s nowhere near as great as she (and the media) want us to think she is.

    • Catherine Says:

      Fighting words! I suppose she would appear on most if she did really well at two upcoming world championships or something, but right

  22. Yevdokiya Says:

    I take this opportunity to post my first comment on your blog, GTT. And it’s going to be damn long. I admit I don’t really know any gymnastics before the 90s, but that’s too bad, and I think the growing difficulty of skills counts for something too.

    By the way, I’ve been lurking the past couple years and reading you daily since this past June… You are awesomely honest and knowledgeable as well as humorously bitter. I have learned a lot here.

    1. Shannon Miller of course. I’ll never forget seeing that delicate, serious young girl with the scrunchified bun bound down the runway in Barcelona and stick THAT vault. It was the first bit of international gymnasts I ever saw. I knew next to nothing about the sport back then, but there was something so special about her. I was thrilled to see her again in Atlanta. I almost cried in disappointment when she stumbled on floor in the AA, and then in happiness when she finally got her gold on beam.

    Now I know a lot more about gymnastics plus just how incredible her career was, but in my opinion you don’t even need to know the specifics about her. Her gymnastics speaks for itself, and she is THE BEST.

    2. Nastia Liukin. Form issues, attitude and overscoring aside, I just loved watching her from 2007 to 2008. I was routing for her the whole time, and I think she deserved *most* of her medals. I then looked back in time, and found her even more interesting to watch before her ankle injury and growth spurt. Such a fragile-looking, admittedly underpowered, funny little frog-like thing… yet such beautiful lines!!! She was simply unique. And she did some things very well indeed, and was well rewarded.

    I agree, her “comeback” was beyond pathetic and she’s an attention-craving bitch. But I also agree that she earns the number 2 spot.

    3. Shawn Johnson. Though her real gymnastics career was quite short, she had such difficulty and consistency throughout that she was amazingly dominant. Her gymnastics weren’t pretty, but her power and clean execution were breathtaking in and of themselves.

    She made an honest effort during her comeback but I kind of wish she hadn’t even tried, because she was never more than a shadow of her former self. And now she’s determined to be a B-list celebrity when she’s really just a nice young woman who needs to get on with her life. Oh well.

    4. Chellsie Memmel. No one fought like she did. Just makes it all the more sad that her body betrayed her on a regular basis. But she achieved so much in spite of that. Her 06 worlds team final beam routine is astonishing. So many bobbles, freaking landing her punch front on one foot, anything but clean! But my god, she fought, and you can tell that the audience was completely behind her, like they were every time she performed. You FEEL her fire. No one watching that particular routine knew that she was fighting through a big injury, having just torn her shoulder on bars… but they could still tell that something amazing was going on.

    I’m so sad that her career has (probably) ended the way it has. It’s one of the meanest things USAG has ever done, and to one of their heroes.

    5. Dominique Dawes. No matter how many times she choked or was overscored, when she hit she was amazing to watch, and three Olympics means something.

    6. Alicia Sacramone. Also choked, quite famously. She was just too damn sensitive in addition to unlucky. But her longevity and comeback from both retirement and major injury were admirable indeed. She didn’t deserve the team gold medal in 2011 when she didn’t compete, and her gold on vault in 2010 was questionable too (even she said she was expecting silver) but in any case she still won herself a ton of worlds medals, really should have won a vault medal in Beijing, and could easily have contributed in London if the US team hadn’t been so deep, and Maroney in particular so freakishly talented.

    7. Which brings me to McKayla Maroney. This choice probably goes against the principles of the list. Still, the girl is (or was, she’s probably have lost it forever already) the greatest performer of the Amanar the sport has ever seen. When your gymnastics, even just a single skill, makes both insiders’ and everyday schmoes’ jaws literally drop on a regular basis, as her Amanars did through the years, you are one of the all-time greats (in my opinion).

    8. Carly Patterson. Clearly a brat and let her country down in the team final at Athens. Still, she had a beautiful and rare lightness to her gymnastics, particularly beam, where she was a true innovator, and she won AA gold fair and square, becoming the first American woman to do so at a *real* Olympics. So she should not be forgotten (though she basically has been).

    9. Aly Raisman. Probably the best tumbler the US has ever produced. Also quite possibly the hardest worker and greatest team player, in that she contributed immensely to her team’s results but rarely got to shine individually. I just loved how underrated she was going into London, until she finally snuck the bronze on beam and then joined that oh so short list of USAG individual gold medalists with her floor routine. Which sure isn’t elegant but definitely has that wow factor. So yeah, go Aly.

    10. Mary Lou Retton. No, she’s not a “real” Olympic AA champion, but you’ve got to give her credit for being America’s best when we weren’t that good yet, rising to the occasion and inspiring a nation full of little girls to take up gymnastics… include the true greats to come who then made us dominate the sport.

    And I am finally done. Hope you let me post this, lol. Will continue to check in regularly with y’all.

  23. exgymgurl Says:

    World Longevity Gymnasts that are also good 2 olympics minimum, one olympic medal minimum

    1. Oksana Chusovitna
    2. Svetlana Boguinskya
    3. Svetlana Khorkina
    4. Simona Amanar
    5. Shannon Miller
    6. Cheng Fei
    7. Dominique Dawes
    8. Beth Tweddle
    9. Vanessa Ferrari
    10. Catalina Ponor

    Notice Amy Chow, Kerri Strugg, not on the list

    • gingercrush Says:


      Where is Larissa Latynina and Vera Caslavska

    • Viola Roadkill Says:


    • Catherine Says:

      That’s not really a great list. Nadia, Nellie Kim, Olga Korbut, Caslavska, Latynina, Tourischeva, Galieva..there’s loads more, but most are more decorated than your list.

      I also think gymnasts like Millousi and Dos Santos are worthy of celebration for their longevity.

  24. Viola Roadkill Says:

    1. Shannon Miller
    2. Doris Fuchs Brause
    3. Cathy Rigby
    4. Kathy Johnson
    5. Julianne McNamara
    6. Dominique Dawes
    7. Kelly Garrison-Stokes
    8. Marcia Frederick
    9. Tracee Talavera
    10. Kim Zmeskal

  25. Aerial Says:

    Great lists you guys. I also would put Kim Zmeskal quite high on the list. She, too, battled many of the greatest in a variety of countries. While some of her scores in Indianapolis were high, she deserved the AA and when it came to event finals, she was still highly competitive though marked a little more properly in accordance with the other girls bringing greater difficulty. She was the queen of the yurchenko at a time when everyone was doing it, and frequently scored 10s. When Bogi, Lysenko, Miller, etc. were shaky on world stages – she was not.
    I often feel remember her as chunky and powerful, but I recently watched some of her vids to see if she was really overrated. Her form, tumbling and yes, choreography – ‘In the Mood’ is a fabulous use of music and the mat! – is really freaking stellar. Better than I remembered it being. She was wonderful. She furthered her difficulty throughout 1992, and unfortunately the Olympics were not her best, however she DID win the AA in the team finals, and I can’t remember… was it the highest AA total of the entire competition, any day?
    Shannon Miller, Nastia, and everyone else on the majority of lists deserve their accolades too.

    • terrigymfan Says:

      Well said Aerial regarding Kim. I absolutely love Shannon but always thought it was unfair how the media manufactured this “rivalry” between Kim and Shannon at the 1992 Olympics and suggested they were enemies and disliked each other. They also tended to portray Kim as jealous of Shannon and the “bad guy” of the two. There was absolutely no truth to any of it. Kim and Shannon were alike in that both were quite and determined and just trying to do their best. They always respected each other and never disliked each other.

      Kim had unusually powerful and muscular legs when she was at her height for a girl who otherwise had such a slim frame. I think that contributes to some of the impression of her nowadays as being powerful but “clunky.” When I go back and look at YouTube videos of her in 1991 and 1992, though, I do not see that at all. She had beautiful form IMO. I especially loved her beam.

      Living in Dallas I have known a few moms whose daughters have attended Texas Dreams in Coppell, Texas which is a suburb of Dallas. None of them have had a bad word to say about Kim.

      • sanitynmotion Says:

        What also is funny is how similar Kim and Shawn are – both had really great form (for the most part) and were really muscular/powerful gymnasts. Both have nice personalities too.

      • gymtruthteller Says:

        They used to have bad words to say about Kim. There were all types of rumors a few years ago about Kim being just like Bela and then someone had a talk with her and she changed her ways.

        With all due respect Kim Zmeskal was not friendly to Shannon until they toured together after 96 and became friends. Watch the 91 worlds team medal ceremony. Shannon was nearly backed off the stage by Kerri and Kim. Watch the sidelines at the 92 Olympics only Wendy Bruce can be seen screaming come on Shannon. Kim and Kerri acted like she never existed.

        There were some issues there. Maybe not blatant bitching like Alicia to Shawn but they certainly did not include Shannon. The 91 worlds is the same way.

      • terrigymfan Says:

        Quick question, GTT. When you say there were rumors that Kim was just like Bela, what do you mean? Do you mean there were rumors she acted like Bela when she first started coaching (dogmatic and verbally abusive)? Or do you mean there were rumors she acted like Bela when she was still competing? If the latter you must mean the rumors were she was bossy and arrogant to other gymnasts, is that right? Just wondering.

      • gymtruthteller Says:

        When she was coaching she acted like Bela at first. When she was competing I only saw her giving Shannon the dirty looks. If she was bitchy it was never to Shannons face that I know of but she never made Shannon feel like she was part of the group. The Karolyi girls were not friendly to anyone but the Karolyi girls

  26. Sarah! Says:

    How the hell do you get 69 comments in three days??? Maybe I ought to start writing more about gymnastics.

    You gave me 10 choices, but I only need one, because Shannon Miller is the only one I know of who could hold her own against any of the greats. Shannon was always a threat.

    As to “modern” gymnasts, I don’t think it’s appropriate to consider anybody who’s currently competing as “the best.”

    Your opinion (GTT) is one I share: gymnastics can go on till the earth collides with the sun, and it’s highly unlikely America will ever produce another Shannon.

    Unless it’s Carmen Moceanu.


    • gymtruthteller Says:

      Carmen will have bent knee’s and flat feet just like her mother and everyone will say what great form she has. I will laugh and laugh:)

      Yes I get comments about gymnastics. You need to start a nice gym blog to go with your other one. Talk the sport. You are a much better writer than me. You will take all the blogs fans. On second thought…..

  27. captainbryce Says:

    America’s Best:

    1. Shannon Miller
    2. Nastia Liukin
    3. Simone Biles
    4. Shawn Johnson
    5. Dominique Dawes
    6. Alicia Sacramone
    7. Carly Patterson
    8. Chelsie Memmel
    9. Kim Zmeskal
    10. Gabby Douglas

    Honorable mentions:

    Mary Lou Retton
    Elise Ray
    Coutney Kupets
    Jordyn Wieber
    McKayla Maroney
    Bridget Sloan
    Aly Raisman
    Kerry Strug
    Amy Chow
    Dominique Moceanu

    • gymtruthteller Says:

      I usually don’t approve new people based on a comment but yours intrigued me and as I glow in the aftermath of the Baltimore Orioles getting their ass’s handed to them on a silver platter BIG SMILE:) I have to disagree with this list.

      1- Gabby is on it. I am no MLR fan but she has 4 individual Olympic medals to Gabby’s 1 and they are both Gold. MLR didn’t compete against the Soviets but Gabby had exactly ONE competitor who could have won the medal. This code creates odds so big there is no chance of anything else happening unless someone falls twice and that type of medal is never rewarded in my system of thinking. Come to think of it Gabby and MLR are the same.

      Moceanu deserves no and I always put AA gymnasts ahead of individual medals which is why Alica is not as high on any list I might come up with. She is basically a vault/floor specialist.

      SO I guess I shouldn’t say I disagree with you as much as I should say I disagree with some of you.


      After that its all a crap shoot.

      In fact a long time ago I started a blog about the top 10 US gymnasts of all time and scrapped it because I could never come up with a list I considered fair enough.

      I also am a firm believer in worlds and the Olympics meaning the same thing to a point.

      Zmeskal won her AA gold against the best competition even if many think she didn’t deserve it but she is way ahead of Dawes on any list because her 3 gold medals in 2 years trump 10 years of Dawes choking. It took Dawes from 91-2000 to win less medals than Zmeskal.

      Now Alicia was a specialist that only one medals on her two special events. She should be way behind an AA gymnast but…………..

      Yes you see my issue with putting everyone in order:)

      • Bryce Says:

        Remember that any such list (and order) is going to be subjective and purely opinion based. The reason I gave Gabby the last spot instead of Retton has largely to due with the lack of competition in Retton’s Olympics. With the Soviet Union (who dominated gymnastics then) boycotting the 1984 games, Retton’s victory doesn’t really carry as much weight to me. The likelihood of Retton winning a medal at all is greatly reduced at a fully attended Olympics. Couple that with the fact that Gabby is the first to win a team and all-around gold in the same Olympics, and being the first African American to win an all around medal means that her achievement deserves slightly more recognition. I also made an allowance for the fact that Gabby is not yet retired and could likely to win more medals if she stays healthy over the next two years.

        Moceanu doesn’t fall in my top ten obviously, but I thought she deserved an honorable mention for accomplishing the underrated (and unlikely) achievement of winning the all-around at the 1998 Goodwill Games, which used to be a prestigious, international event on par with the Olympics and with strong competition.

        The reason I rate Dawes ahead of Zmeskal is largely due to her longevity in the top echelon. Zmeskal was only a factor on the international stage in two years (1991-1992), whereas Dawes meddled at three Olympic games (1992, 1996, 2000). Zmeskal has 6 Olympic and world championship medals, Dawes as 8. The only thing that Zmeskal accomplished that Dawes didn’t is an all-around title. They both choked in the Olympics (Zmeskal in 1992 all-around; Dawes in 1996 all-around). I still put Zmeskal on the list though for being the first to win an all-around title.

        I agree that Sacramone was a specialist, but the fact that she has won the most medals of any American at the world championships (simply cannot be ignored in my opinion). And since making my list, I now believe that Biles should move ahead of Liukin. One because I think she is a better gymnast overall, and two because of the reason you said (world’s and the Olympics meaning the same thing). Biles has won two all-around titles and will probably win more at this rate.

  28. Dark Vader Says:

    I would rank:

    1. Shannon Miller
    2. Simone Biles
    3. Nastia Liukin
    4. Shawn Johnson
    5. Kim Zmeskal
    6. Gabby Douglas
    7. Carly Patterson
    8. Mary Lou Retton
    9. Chelsie Memmel
    10. Jordyn Wieber

    Ranking the first 4 was easy for me. I cant put Biles behind Liukin. She has already surpassed Liukin in # of world/Olympic golds, both individual and including team. Liukin’s competition was terrible and even worse than whatever Biles’s is now. After 2016 Biles will most likely take over #1 from Miller as well. Biles has already totally dominated 2 years like no American ever has, including Miller, Liukin, Shawn Johnson, Retton, Zmeskal, or anyone else one can think of. Her competition is likely to get harder, but that will only give her more opportunity to prove herself, and she seems very smart at pacing herself and warding off injuries, while also continually upgrading skills. Ranking Shawn next after the first 3 was also super easy.

    Ranking after 4th was very hard. I picked Kim next since she was the one to beat for almost 2 years even if she was overscored and overrated. I went with the Olympic AA winners next, since it is not like any were a total fluke, even if Mary Lou’s gold is diminished by the boycott and Douglas was close to a flash in the pan, but not a fluke. I went with the world AA winners to round it out, especialy as both had success of other sorts.

    • gymtruthteller Says:

      Miller didn’t lose a meet for 2 years and she competed a lot and technically she has 6 gold medals like Simone but for some reason she and Gutsu were not allowed the medal they won when Suk and North Korea was cheating. Simone needs a successful Olympics to move up over Miller or Liukin IMO.

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