Crowdsourcing: I’m Going To The Olympics! What Should I Ask Gymnasts About?

Kiana Ross, Natalie Hawkins and Missy Parton, moms of Team USA gymnasts, at the P&G Salon in the Family Home.

So, in a moment that makes me feel justified about all my life’s decisions, P&G Beauty- who proudly sponsors the U.S. women’s gymnastics team – is flying me out to London to cover the women’s gymnastics events and visit the family home. Now. Today. This is happening today. I am really, really excited about this trip. We’re going to the V&A museum! And seeing a play called Posh! And eating at the Ivy! There is a whole itinerary, and you know how much I love lists. 

But obviously, the most important part of this is getting to hang out at the Olympic family home and talking to some of the participants in the gymnastics events. In between wildly plugging P&G products (Covergirl is the best, you guys!) I’d really like to ask these people questions you’re interested in having addressed. I don’t know how much access I’ll get, or precisely who I’ll get a chance to speak with, but I figure some topics I’d like to cover are:

- What it’s like to compete at such a young age (lots of the gymnasts are in their teens – do they miss the “normal” high school experience? Prom?Does it make for an odd relationship with your family when you’re having a career when most kids are learning how to drive?)

- What’s the diet like (I’m not going to say “do you all live on kale and dust”, I’m just going to imply it, with my eyes. Or maybe it’s one of those Michael Phelps things where you get to eat 10,000 calories a day.)

- Do you have a favorite make-up product, and is there one that you wear (and that stays on) while you’re competing? Does wearing make-up actually make you more confident?

- Do you have a career plan post gymnastics? (I am trying to find a way to phrase this so it does not sound like “what do you want to be when you grow up, Olympic hero?”)

- What do you think about to remain calm before you compete?

I’m ashamed to admit that I’m not someone who follows the Olympics that closely, so I think those of you who do might have more meaningful queries. What would you want to know? Tell me your questions and, if they’re not completely idiotic, I will just bury a recorder in someone’s face and ask them those questions. I can’t promise it will be a gymnast, it might be a random taxi driver, but I’ll do my best to ask someone for you.

I’ll also be tweeting about the trip pretty obsessively, which will be a break from my normal “using Twitter to tweet The Great Gatsby line by line every night” approach (really), so, if you want to hang out on this trip with me like an invisible person muttering things, you can follow here. 


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    • Ellen W.

      I’ve always wondered about what kind of shoes they wear. Do their sports doctors tell them to not wear heels for fear of messing up their feet/knees/etc.? Do they actually listen to those doctors or do they wear espadrilles all summer anyway?

    • Renee

      Those leotards look like they give epic wedgies. If you get one in the middle of competing, are you even aware? Do you have to suffer through, knowing that even after you are done the cameras are on you, and you have to be stealthy about unwedgiefication? Do your coaches train you to get wedgies out without being obvious?

      Do you even like Wheaties? Are you even allowed Wheaties on a training diet?

      Do you secretly wish the Olympic gold medals were full of chocolate, like those gold foil covered coins? Do you think it should be:

      Gold=Dark Chocolate
      Silver=Milk Chocolate
      Bronze=White Chocolate?

      And that is probably why no one is sending me to the Olympics to ask people questions and write about it.

      • Allison

        I’ve heard that if they pick a wedge during thier routine, they lose a tenth of a point or some such nonsense. So they just have to suffer through.

    • Jessica P. Ogilvie

      Jennifer you have to wear white jeans and a white men’s button down and FIND RYAN LOCHTE!!!

    • Sean

      I know nothing of gymnastics, and sparse little more about the olympics, but the only critical thing about London, is remember to look in the correct direction when crossing the street.

      They’ve kindly labelled all the streets with “look left” or “look right”, but the instinct is hard to counter. I was almost a permanent addition to Baker street on my last trip.

    • Lindsey

      I’m so happy for you! And so jealous I want your head to start on fire.

      Definitely ask those questions. I was watching some coverage and they were fucking asking these gold medalists about fucking Justin Bieber. It made me so mad. Definitely don’t ask them about Justin Bieber.

    • porkchop

      All gymnasts have such narrow hips–not just lean but small-boned. Why does that help? I’m so curious about this. Also, do they do spontaneous handstand splits on all their furniture at home? Because I would.

    • Kate

      Not sure if this is too late, but here are a few ideas:

      - How much control do they get over choosing their leotards/bodysuits for the individual competition? Do they look for any specific elements in a leotard to express their style?

      -If they weren’t practicing gymnastics what other sport would they want to take up?

      -How are the social dynamics in the Olympic Village? Do they stick mostly with their teammates? Team USA? Have they made friends with other gymnasts or athletes from around the world?

      -Do they have any items/songs/sayings/rituals that give them comfort before performing?

      -Why didn’t Maroney get a perfect score on her vault?