Interviewing gold medal-winning gymnast Jordyn Wieber

Olympic gymnast Jordyn Wieber at Planet Hollywood in Olympic gymnast Jordyn Wieber at Planet Hollywood in Manhattan with Kidsday reporters Kevin Coleman, Justin Cooke, Alexia Luna and Natalia Fuschel. (Feb. 4, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / Pat Mullooly

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We met Olympic gold medal gymnast Jordyn Wieber when she was visiting Planet Hollywood recently.

What made you decide to be a gymnast?

I started gymnastics when I was 4 years old. I was jumping on the trampoline and running around the gym, and I ended up just loving it. I was running around my house and, of course, walking on the curb pretending it was a balance beam. So right from the very beginning, I just loved gymnastics. I loved learning new skills, and flips and things like that. That's pretty much what made me start gymnastics -- just my love for the sport.

How do you keep yourself grounded with all of the pressure of being in the Olympics?

Good question. Well, I always just remember that I am very lucky to have this talent and these experiences and opportunities. So I just remember how thankful I am that I have a very supportive family and coaches, and a very good support system behind me. So that's what helps me stay grounded and then just remember that I get to do cool things like this: talk to you guys. It's a lot of fun for me, too.

How did it feel to win a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics?

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It was such an honor to win a gold medal. I had so much fun. It took a lot of years of hard work and training and a lot of sacrifices to get there; but once I got to the Olympics, I was just proud to represent USA and to wear a USA leotard and everything. So I had a lot of fun, and just standing on the Olympic podium and getting a gold medal and watching the American flag get raised up. That was a pretty cool feeling.

Who is your role model and why?

I have so many role models. Especially past Olympians I used to watch when I was little. I always looked up to them and watched them on TV; and also, I have an older sister who's 26 and she's a doctor. So she's a big role model of mine because she works so hard and she's always been the kind of older sister I looked up to.

Coming soon: Newsday's Family newsletter, for things to do with kids, events, more.

Now that you have a gold medal, are you through competing?

I'm not done competing yet, so I have my sights on the next Olympics.

What is your favorite, best and most challenging event?

In gymnastics, there's four events. There's vault, bars, beam and floor. I guess bars was always the one that was the toughest for me. I had to work extra hard on bars and do extra hours in the gym every single day just to get that event a little bit better. I guess the bars have always been a challenge for me, but I worked really hard on it.

What do you do with your friends when you have free time?

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When I have free time, I like to go shopping and get my nails done with my friends. Typical girlie things. Right now, I'm in college, so a lot of times I have to study when I have free time.

When you walk in the store, do people recognize you?

Sometimes. It's a weird feeling. Sometimes, I go out to the store and people come up to me and ask me for my picture, which is a crazy feeling because that's never happened before. But it's also pretty cool because it means they watch me and they've been supporting me. So I love that feeling.

Before you go to a competition, if you're nervous, what do you do remind yourself you can do it?

I think before a competition, I would always close my eyes and kind of visualize my routines, just run them through my head over and over, and that's how I would get a little bit more confident; and I would also remember how many routines I did in the gym over and over again, and just trust in my training and just tell myself I could do it.

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How do you join the Olympics?

First step: You have to be on the national team, and there's only about 25 girls on the national team. And from there, you can go to the Olympic trials. In 2012, the Olympic trials were in San Jose, Calif. And then, when you're at the Olympic trials, you compete, and then they choose five people to be on the Olympic team.

What's the best thing about being a celebrity?

Probably all the people I get to meet. I get to meet a lot of celebrities, but also just going around and talking to people and talking to kids and doing speeches and things like that. This is one of the coolest parts for me.

Coming soon: Newsday's Family newsletter, for things to do with kids, events, more.

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