Photo of Samantha Peszek on the uneven parallel bars.
Photo of Samantha Peszek on the uneven parallel bars.

Gymnastics: Leap, Bounce and Balance

Samantha Peszek on the uneven parallel bars. Image via
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About This Episode

For hosts Chuck Nice and Garry O’Reilly, the world of competitive gymnastics is about as far away from their comfort zone as you can get. So to guide them through the beams, bars, floor and vault we’ve got not one, but two former Olympic gymnasts: Dr. Phil Cheetham, the Senior Sport Technologist for the US Olympic Committee and a former Olympic gymnast on the Australian team (1976, 1980), and Samantha Peszek, who won the Silver medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and recently covered gymnastics at the Rio Olympics for NBC. Find out what it takes to become an Olympic gymnast, from the tenacity to overcome injury to the 4-6 hours of training every day all year long required to build the muscle memory and the mental routines required to compete at the highest levels. Explore the role that technology plays in helping gymnasts improve their skills. Discover how the increase in the springiness of floors has enabled the explosiveness of the recently popular “rebound tumbling.” Investigate how different body types perform better in various events. You’ll learn why in vaulting, arm strength is far less important than speed to produce the kinetic energy to convert horizontal velocity into height and spin, and where most of that energy comes from. Find out what goes into a Yurchenko vault, why the “Double Double” is such a difficult skill to master, and why competitive gymnasts hate the “soft foam pit. Samantha shares her journey to the Olympics, which began when she was 2 years old. You’ll also hear what goes into building a routine, both physically and mentally, and why gymnastics is “80-85% a mental sport.” All that, plus Chuck invents “Death vaulting.”

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Gymnastics: Leap, Bounce & Balance.

In This Episode

  • Host

    Gary O'Reilly

    Gary O'Reilly
    Sports Analyst, Broadcaster, Professional Soccer Player
  • Host

    Chuck Nice

    Chuck Nice
  • Guest

    Phil Cheetham

    Dr. Phil Cheetham, Ph.D.
    Senior Sport Technologist for the US Olympic Committee; former Olympic gymnast on the Australian team (1976, 1980)
  • Guest

    Samantha Peszek

    Samantha Peszek
    Former Olympic gymnast US team; Silver medalist, Beijing Olympics 2008

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