Kim Zmeskal Interview

This is the spotlight interview done on Kim Zmeskal during the two day broadcast of the Womenís Professional Gymnastics Championships.

PART   1

Andrea Joyce:   Perhaps the most intriguing story of this competition is Kim Zmeskalís attempted comeback. She really hasnít competed since the 1992 Olympics and now for the young woman who made gymnastics history at the tender age of 15, it is a long road back.

(cut to shot inside Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy)

This is the real world of gymnastics. No huge arenas washed with TV lights, no screaming fans- just work and sweat. Ceaseless training that can seem brutal when measured against other sports. This is Kim Zmeskalís home. Twenty-two years old, sheís a woman now. Trying to make her body remember what was once routine.

Mary Lee Tracy:   I feel Kimís need to come back is that she has some form of unfinished business. I donít really think it means winning anything because sheís won almost everything. Sheís been to an Olympic games, sheís been world champion x-number of times, thereís just some unfinished gymnastics business with her and I think thatís between her and gymnastics.

Andrea Joyce:   Kim and Gymnastics. Itís a relationship that began almost the moment she was born. In 1991 with legendary coach, Bela Karolyi, Kim became Americaís first world champion.

Kim Zmeskal:   Everything was just so easy. Iíd just go from meet to meet. Iíd just be prepared for one after the other. So Barcelona was just kind of the same way, it was just the next big meet. Except for the pressure from everybody else and from myself and from myself thinking, "This is your very last competition. You donít want to have anything else to do with gymnastics afterwards, so make it your best one."

Andrea Joyce:   Imagine being called "The next Mary Lou", "Americaís best hope for gold". Imagine putting that weight on a 16 year olds shoulders. In the first event, in her first Olympic games, the burden proved too much. Some might say itís yet to be removed.

Kim Zmeskal:   After Ď92 I had a lot of growing up to do, a lot of thinking to do as far as what direction I wanted to take in my life and for part of the while I thought maybe the answer is to get away from the sport and try to be a normal person and stuff. But it never completely made me happy.

(cut back to Kim working out in the gym)

Andrea Joyce:   Today, this is what makes Zmeskal smile. The back breaking race to recapture the joy of her sport.

Kim Zmeskal:   I know that there are tons of girls around the country who are training for the same goals that I am. And I have been very fortunate to have reached those goals once in my life. If I could somehow make it there again, I would be ecstatic about it. But at the same time I am still enjoying this day to day and that has to be the most important thing for me right now.

(Kim training bars and falling several times)

Andrea Joyce:   Like most anything of value, the object of our strongest desire never comes easy.

Kim Zmeskal:   Part of me wishes I could be one of the up and coming Juniors and the girls who are just now going senior and stuff. They donít have anyone watching over them, anyone taking anything they do critically. Whereas Iím kind of in more of a position where people are going to compare with what I was 5 or 6 years ago. I can take it as something positive or something negative. I choose to take it in a positive way. Iíve been really fortunate that people have enjoyed watching me do gymnastics. Hopefully Iíll have them on my side right now.

Andrea Joyce:   So Kim Zmeskal hopes for the best. Training day after day with girls nearly half her age. Teenagers who remember sitting in their homes, watching their TVís almost a decade ago wishing that someday they might be the next Kim Zmeskal.

Kim Zmeskal:    I think the people that donít try are the ones that lose the most. I have nothing to lose right now. Iím not trying to prove anything to anyone- not to myself. I just really enjoy training, I really enjoy performing, and I still like competing.

Andrea Joyce:   Success is often contrary in bestowing itís rewards. But sometimes, it touches those who are willing to dream.

(cut back to Kim training on bars and hitting her release moves)

Kim Zmeskal:   Iím 22 years old, Iíve been very, very fortunate that my body has held up as well as it has and Iím going to take advantage of what Godís given me.


PART   2

Narrator:   Why? Why do this? Why try to come back? These are the questions that Kim Zmeskal hears again and again and again. Sheís done almost all there is to do in this sport- National Champion, World Champion, an Olympian as well. Though the experience proved to be a painful one, she is still regarded as one of the greatest gymnasts America has ever produced. So why come back?

Kim Zmeskal:   I thought, when I was training back before Ď92, what would be perfect would be to go in and win the Olympics. Obviously that was not what was meant for my life and I would definitely not change that because it has taught me a lot of things and itís definitely carried me through the sport still. Right now what would be perfect would be for me to enjoy what Iím doing. And to enjoy the whole process. If it takes me to the Olympics again, then that would be great.

More than anything I think I donít want to be compared with the younger me. I want to be able to do this portion of my career as who I am now, as what Iím doing to prepare myself for each of the competitions. I just want to go out there and enjoy what Iím doing and have people be happy that Iím at the stage that I am.