It's been 20 years since Kerri Strug shot into the spotlight as a member of "The Magnificent Seven," the 1996 gold-medal-winning United States Olympic Women's Gymnastics Team. Since then, the retired gymnast has grown up -- though she's still as petite as ever -- and started a family of her own. Wonderwall.com recently caught up with the 38-year-old mother of Tyler, 4, and Alayna, 2, to get the scoop on how her life has changed since she achieved what's often cited as one of the greatest sports moments of all time -- remember when she vaulted Team USA to gold in spite of a severely sprained ankle during the Atlanta Summer Games? -- as she promoted Jared the Galleria of Jewelry's Miracle Links collection. Keep reading for the highlights from our chat, in which Keri dished on the joys of parenting two kiddos under the age of 5, enrolling her tots in gymnastics classes, her post-Olympics career and more!
Kerri Strug on her kids:
"I feel very fortunate to have one of each. They're very different. My son is extremely active. He loves being the bigger brother and playing that role. He's involved already in a lot of activities. We go to tee-ball several times a week. We have soccer. We have gymnastics. He really loves music, which I think is interesting because he's already so involved in athletics, but I want to expose him to the arts as well. He's very outgoing whereas my daughter is a little bit more reserved. She loves being active too -- she's involved in gymnastics and goes to a music class as well. She already wants to do whatever her big brother does -- she emulates him. He tries to be good, but he has a lot of boy in him still, so if he's giving her a hug, sometimes it's not a nice, gentle hug but more of a big embrace that could turn into wrestling or something. So we have to monitor. But we've been very fortunate that they get along relatively well."
On how gymnastics stacks up against tee-ball for her son:
"He really does enjoy his gymnastic class on Mondays. He has a couple friends in there, and it's mixed gender, which is nice. He hasn't said he really prefers one activity over another. I think anything that gets him out and about [where] he gets to exude his energy is something he enjoys at the moment. I'm not pushing one thing or another. It's his life and he'll have to decipher what's right for him."
On entering her kiddos in gymnastics classes at an early age:
"You can enroll them in a mom-and-me style class. Ours is called Movers and Shakers. It's through our county. [You can enroll your kids] at 12 months -- that's when I started both of them."
On how she likes to spend time with her family:
"I have two toddlers, so we prefer to get out and about, but nothing too fancy. I think quick and casual is what we prefer. It's always nice to go to a park and relax a bit and see them play. Honestly, our [weekends] center around what the kids like, and if they're happy, I'm happy."
On her post-Olympics career:
"I lived in Washington, D.C., for about a decade and worked for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. It's a component of the Department of Justice at the grant-making office. I still work for them, although I'm based in Tucson, Arizona, [now]. I'm a full-time teleworker. I go back to D.C. to the office and touch base with my supervisor on staff, but with technology today, I'm able to do a lot of [work] and stay connected although I'm here in Arizona."
On traveling for work with two young children at home:
"It is difficult leaving them, but I know that it is healthy. And I think it's good for them to see that Mommy has to do certain things to provide for them and that I'm doing something for me -- my job -- that I enjoy. It's always difficult to say goodbye, but they're that much more excited to see me when I return."
On how motherhood has affected her perspective of Olympic athletes:
"At the time [during the 1996 Olympics], I was one of the older girls on the team -- one of the veterans. But now I look at the gymnasts out there who are 18, 19 or 20 and can't believe all that they're able to do at such a young age. Becoming a mother has just given me a very different perspective of athletics and what these athletes are willing to sacrifice and go through in their quest for gold."
On eventually sharing her epic Olympic moment with her children:
"I feel very fortunate that people remember my moment, and I'm very proud of it. I've tried to take what I've learned through my athletic career and implement it into the new chapters of my life. But it's always nice to reflect on that moment because it was something meaningful not just for me but for a lot of people. I'm excited to share that special moment with my children as they get older."
On Jared the Galleria of Jewelry's Miracle Links collection:
"As a mom, there's nothing like the bond that I share with my children. That's why the Miracle Links pendant I have is not only beautiful to me but extremely meaningful. I think every mom out there would love to wear it each and every day. The Miracle Links collection was designed exclusively for moms, with inner linking circles symbolizing the special bond between a mother and her child. The large circle represents the mom, and then the smaller circles represent a child or multiple children. It's really great because as the family grows, your necklace and the additional links grow as well."
On why she can't wear statement jewelry:
"I'm very petite, so I prefer very fine jewelry -- nothing too blingy. I think every woman loves diamonds and gold. But again, I'm 4-feet-10-inches [tall] and rather small, so it would look silly if I had an abundance of jewelry all over me... I think [statement pieces are] more appropriate on somebody who maybe played beach volleyball or is a long, elegant, tall dancer -- things like that!"
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