1996 gold medal-winning gymnast reflects on Olympic experience – WTHR

The mayor of Greenfield declared Monday “Jaycie Phelps Day” in the city.

GREENFIELD, Ind. — It’s been 25 years since she won a gold medal at the Olympics in gymnastics. 

Greenfield native Jaycie Phelps was only 16 when she won hers and made history as part of the first United States women’s gymnastics team to win gold at the Olympics. 

“There’s nothing like that 40,000 people in the stands chanting ‘USA!’” Phelps recalled.  

That won’t be the experience for the athletes competing at this summer’s Olympics, because of COVID-19 restrictions. Spectators are not allowed to be there to watch the games. 

“As parents, not being able to go and support your child and as the athlete, not being able to come and see your family up in the stands,” said Phelps, shaking her head about how difficult that’s going to be. 

More than two decades later, Phelps is still feeling the love of fans in her hometown. 

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Monday, Greenfield’s mayor declared the day “Jaycie Phelps Day” and presented her with a proclamation making it so. 

“It’s very humbling, 25 years later, that people still honor and respect what I did,” said Phelps. 

The sacrifices were many along the way, Phelps explained. That’s why she worries about the athletes testing positive for COVID-19 in Japan. 

“All this time, and all these years to be training and to have something like that take you out, it’s another level of stress,” Phelps said. 

Not to mention the daily COVID tests all the athletes are required to take. 

“Getting that test and waiting for the results, the added stress that that puts on these athletes that have enough as it is,” she said. 

Phelps is just thankful the Olympics are taking place after being postponed last year because of the pandemic. Watching the games makes her think of her own Olympic experience and what it still means for her and the fans who still adore her. 

“Once you’re an Olympian, you’re always an Olympian. No one can ever take that away from you,” said Phelps.