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Shannon Miller: One of America’s Most Decorated Gymnasts (ep. 256)

Shannon Miller

John O’Leary welcomes Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller onto the Live Inspired Podcast to share about how even the greatest of champions face obstacles.

Shannon Miller is widely recognized as one of the iconic gymnasts of USA’s Magnificent Seven 1996 Olympic team. Two decades later, she remains one of the most decorated American gymnasts in history. Yet, even the greatest of champions face uncontrollable obstacles —  like a rare cancer diagnosis.

Today, this mother of two, author, sought-after speaker + survivor shares some of her contagious focus + determination. You’ll learn her perspective on some of the most memorable moments of her gymnastics career, her devotion to advocating for women’s health + how she empowers others to break through personal challenges.

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  • At 9-years-old, Shannon idolized the older gymnasts she trained alongside before learning about Mary Lou Retton and Nadia Comăneci.
  • “I was never one of those kids that thought ‘I want to be an Olympic gold medalist.’ It was always about making it to the next step. I had an important focus on what do I do today to get there.”
  • As long as you’re willing to work hard, anything is possible.
  • Just weeks away from the 1992 Olympic Trials, Shannon broke + dislocated her left elbow after a potential career-ending mistake. Instead of giving up, she focused forward + became a more well-rounded + driven athlete than before.
  • Instead of allowing the pressure to overwhelm 15-year-old Shannon at the 1992 Olympics, she changed the narrative in her mind to use the crowd + circumstances at supportive motivation.
  • Shannon earned two silver and three bronze medals at the 1992 Summer Olympics, securing the record for most medals won at a single Olympic Games without winning gold.
  • Although Shannon missed out on an all-around gold medal by the closest margin in Olympic history, finishing 0.012 points shy, she only sees the positive in the accomplishment.
  • “It’s not about the medals. You give 100% + do your best.”
  • “There is no Olympic medalist that stands up on that podium alone. You don’t get there by yourself.” Shannon credits her not only her fellow gymnasts but the broader team of parents, coaches, physicians, teachers and community in her success.
  • During the 1996 Olympics, Shannon was part of Magnificent Seven, recognized for their camaraderie, enthusiasm, spark + unlikely triumph in winning the first team Olympic gold medal for USA gymnastics.
  • At 19 years old, Shannon retired from competitive gymnastics to focus on her education.
  • In February 2011, Shannon was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer motivating her focus on the importance of health.
  • Live Inspired community member Jody F. asked Shannon: When was your darkest time + what would you tell someone listening trying to come back to the light?


1. What is the best book you’ve ever read? I’m an avid reader so I can’t commit to just one.

2. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today? Focus. As a child, I was able to focus on two things: school + gymnastics. As an adult, we’re pulled in a million directions, every minute, every day.

3. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be? My computer for my photos, but that’s backed up. There is nothing worth going back into a burning house to get.

4. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be? My husband.

5. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Focus your energy. Today my goal is to help one woman focus on her health.

6. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self? Ride the wave. Life will give you ups and downs. Hold on tight and keep going.

7. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read? Shannon Miller is someone who focused on faith, family and doing her very best each day.


My new book IN AWE is now available… and became an instant bestseller! Learn how to rediscover your childlike sense of wonder to unleash inspiration, meaning and joy. Visit ReadInAwe.com today! 


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