Feb. 25, 2004
Q: How have constant injuries changed your outlook as a person and as a gymnast? What are the implications of such injuries on your health after your gymnastics career? Keith (Chicago)
A: Keith - Having the same injury for about 6 years has been really frustrating. My outlook didn't change until I got the bone infection, and the doctors were really worried and wouldn't really discuss going back to gymnastics. After coming back from that, I realized how being able to do gymnastics (among other things like running, jumping and even walking) can be taken away so easily and how I had/have no control over it. It made me more appreciative of what I had accomplished and was/am able to do physically.
Well, my shin in the future should be fine (knock on wood right?!). I will always be more prone to getting stress fractures than someone who hasn't had what I have had. However, I think just from the years of pounding it's going to have an effect later on in life, maybe developing arthritis earlier, for example. Other than that I'm not real sure, and I'm not looking forward to finding out!
Q: Kristen, you are an inspiration to everyone. Was it mentally harder for you to train on your stress fracture all those years, or to not train while your tibia healed? Best of luck at nationals. :) Rachel (Davis, CA)
A: Rachel, thanks a lot! It was harder not training while my tibia healed. Even though I was in constant pain training on my shin, I was still training and able to do what I love. I could handle training with the pain a lot easier than not training at all!
Q: I admire everything that you have done in the past and what you are doing in the present for the sport of gymnastics. What made you stay in the gym throughout all the injuries over the years? Katherine (Silverhill)
A: Katherine, thank you very much! It was actually pretty hard to stay in the gym during my injuries. It was easier when I was able to do some stuff, like bars and conditioning. I took some time off because I wasn't allowed to do anything, so that helped. What made me come back to the gym after the injuries was the fact that I really wanted to be there. My heart was still in the gym, and I had to try everything I could before I gave up completely. I also felt that I was not done with the sport and that I had more to give and contribute.
Q: I am about ready to come back from a long recovery from injury (ACL), and I was wondering how you dealt with the mental side of your comeback. I'm really excited, but still there is the fear issue. Any tips? Thanks so much, and I truly enjoy your gymnastics. Good Luck & God Bless! Elizabeth (Kingsport, TN)
A: Elizabeth, I am sorry about your knee! I totally understand where you are coming from. Just know that it is normal to have some fear coming back from an injury like that. Trust yourself, coaches, and trainers/ physical therapist first of all! Know that they won't let you do anything that you are not ready to do. Also, you know your body the best, so make sure you listen to what it is telling you and don't try and push through a lot of pain. However, don't get nervous if you get sore or have some pain because that is normal coming back from an injury, so just take it slow!
Q: I think that you were (and of course are) still one of the best gymnasts the U.S. has ever had. I was always impressed and entertained by your floor exercise. Since recovering from the leg injuries how has training for the floor changed and affected your performances? Wes (Grass Valley)
A: Wes, thanks! My shin definitely dictates my floor training. I pretty much train whenever my shin is not sore. So, I really do not train all that much on floor. When I was first coming back from my recovery I could not do floor right away because it hurt too much. Now it's doing really well! It doesn't get sore or hurt all that much. I have only competed on floor twice, and so far it has been fine, so it hasn't affect my performances at all.
Q: Hi Kristen- I just saw your floor routine and I think it's really cool!! What's the name of your music? Jennifer (Plano, TX)
A: Jennifer, thanks! The name of my music is called "Fever".
Q: Hey Kristen! You have been such an inspiration to me; I think you are an amazing gymnast! My question to you is, how does it feel being so successful with the Olympics and also UCLA? And do you think you are stronger now after having surgery? Oh and thanks for my autograph! My friend worked with you at IGC a few summers ago and got it for me because she knows you're one of my favorite gymnasts! Sarah (Northern NJ)
A: Sarah, it feels amazing being able to be successful at the elite level and also at the college level! It was a hard transition coming to college right from the Olympics, and being able to work through it with support from my family and team was really rewarding.
Well, I don't think I am stronger than before surgery, it's kind of hard to tell since it has been so long since I have been able to train. I feel almost as strong as I did when I first came to college. The only thing that is not as strong is my right leg (that is my "bad" leg, shin wise). I am continually gaining strength and am almost at full strength.
Q: Will you be competing next year for the Bruins, since you redshirted your sophomore year? Congratulations on an amazing comeback from injury!!! Melissa (Lafayette, IN)
A: Melissa, thank you! As of right now I plan on competing next year.
Q: Hi Kristen- Congratulations on your strong comeback after injury. My question is, after the 2000 Olympics, did you ever want to pursue the 2004 Olympics? What made you choose the path you did? Amanda (Novi, Michigan)
A: Amanda - Well, honestly, the last thing on my mind after the Olympics was going back for 2004. I was ready to move on from elite gymnastics and was really excited to start college. I would love to go to the Olympics again because it was such an amazing experience, and I think it would be totally different considering I am at a different place in my life now. However, the time and energy it takes to train for a meet like that is something I cannot commit to right now, and I am not sure my body could take it as well. Also, I had my time, and it's time for the new generation to have the opportunity to attain their dream.
I choose to come to UCLA because of the school's educational reputation. Gymnastics was the last thing I was looking at in a school. I wanted to go somewhere I could be happy and receive a good education at the same time. I have to admit that the warm California weather had some influence as well!
Q: How have you, an east coast girl, liked LA? I wonder, is the training and rehab easier or harder to do with all the sunshine? Stella (St. Louis)
A: Stella, LA is so much different from home! It was a big adjustment. But I love it here! It is a lot faster-paced than home is. Everyone here seems like they are in a rush. And I noticed that everyone is always dressed up! It's hard to train with all the sunshine, but it also puts me in a good mood, so that helps. But one thing from home I miss is the snow days!!
Q: What is your major? What do you want to do after you graduate? Mary Lou (Plano)
A: Mary Lou, I am majoring in psychology and minoring in education. As of right now I have no idea what I want to do after I graduate!! I have a few ideas in mind but nothing really set right now. I know I want to work with kids on some level, either coaching club or college, daycare, or teaching. Where I do that I have no clue!
Q: What was the first thing that went through your mind when you were selected for the Olympic team & the same when asked to join UCLA. I'm so glad you're feeling better. Daniel Mendoza (Fullerton, CA)
A: Daniel, thanks for the note! I was really excited when I made the Olympic team. It was a dream of mine for a long time, and to actually be able to go was awesome! As for coming to UCLA, I was relieved when Miss Val contacted me to see if I was interested in the school. At the time, some schools/coaches didn't think I was going to go to college or was only interested in Penn State because it was close to home. So when I came on my recruiting trip here I knew this was the place I wanted to be and was very excited when Miss Val offered me a scholarship.
Q: I am 10 years old, and I am a level 8 gymnast at SCATS-Diamond Bar. How do you stay so focused on beam? Kaitlyn Clark (Alta Loma)
A: Kaitlyn, that's a tricky question. Beam has always been a favorite of mine. I try to focus on doing one skill at a time so my mind doesn't race and worry about something that is at the end of my routine and mess up everything else. I also have a few key words, like jump or slow, that I tell myself before and during my routine that remind me of what I need to do to be successful. I hope that helps! Good luck with the rest of your season!