2004 Olympic gold medalist Carly Patterson writes about her debut CD, Back to the Beginning, to be release on Tuesday, August 25:
“Wow, Carly, you won a gold medal in gymnastics for the United States,” people would say to me. Then they would inevitably ask, “What’s next?” I can’t tell you how many times I heard that. Honestly, it’s not difficult to hear others ask me that question. However, it became a challenge when I started to ask myself, “Where do I go from here?” I think all of us ask ourselves that question after an accomplishment.
There’s obviously some fear involved when I put pressure on myself to, in a sense, top my last achievement. At some point, I had to let go of the expectations. Once I determined what I wanted to do, I decided to go for it.
I was fortunate enough to have great parents who encouraged me in my ambitions. Actually, I had two areas of interest growing up; gymnastics and music. This was most likely because my mom was a gymnast and my dad was a singer. I’ve been told that I began to sing shortly after I started talking, so music has always been a big part of who I am.
After winning the gold medal in 2004, I decided it was time to do something with my other great love - music. I have to admit, it was very scary at first switching to singing. It was a totally different career for me and I didn’t know if I would be taken seriously. Luckily I have amazing fans from my days as a gymnast that have crossed over and supported me in this new path. It’s really important to have encouragement whether it’s from fans or friends.
One of the first goals I set for myself was to write songs. I look for some inspiration and it just pops into my head. I’ll write pages at a time and get it all out. Before I know it, a song idea is forming. It can be a memory or a guy or a life experience that inspires me. I collaborated with two great musicians I know; Chris August and Jordan Critz. We put our ideas out on the table and they took off from there. I co-wrote over half of the songs on my CD, Back to the Beginning, so I’m very proud of that.
The truth is I couldn’t have succeeded in reaching my goals if it weren’t for the support and encouragement of role models. A big part of my motivation when training as a gymnast came from my parents who were cheering me on. They’re equally supportive of my music and other endeavors. It’s rewarding for me to be able to pass on that kind of support to young kids. I’m currently the spokesperson for My Gym Children’s Fitness Center, a worldwide chain where parents can bring their kids to exercise, learn about physical fitness and have fun at the same time.
I’m hopeful that in my work with My Gym, I can spark a love of athletics in kids that will last a lifetime. I know, for me, watching Dominique Dawes and Shannon Miller when I was a kid certainly helped me! I always tell kids to love and have fun with what they do in life whether it’s gymnastics or whatever else their dream may be. It means so much to give back.
Of course everybody these days can use a little encouragement. I know young adults my age are going through some tough times. So many people are graduating from school and finding that there are no jobs doing what they want to do. My advice to anyone who is struggling is to keep working hard at what you love no matter what. Right now the economy is bad, but all you can do is to keep pushing and try to stay positive till it gets better. As my coach, Evgeny Marchenko, said to me, “Hard work never disappears.” I try to live by those words.
Carly Patterson is the 2004 Olympic All-Around Champion and a member of the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame. She won the gold medal, an achievement that had only been attained by one other American gymnast, Mary Lou Retton, exactly twenty years before during the 1984 summer games. Carly became the first American woman to ever win the Olympic All-Around title in a non-boycotted Olympic Games. She is currently the spokesperson for My Gym Children’s Fitness Center, www.mygym.com. Her debut CD, Back to the Beginning (Music Mind Records), will be released on Tuesday, August 25. Her single, Time to Wake Up, can be found on iTunes.