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Olympic gymnast visits Williamsport

August 06, 1999

Amanda borden autographsBy DAN SPEARS / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GIILBERT / staff photographer




WILLIAMSPORT - George Foreman has made a second career out of coming back from his first one. Half the country probably expects Barry Sanders to come out of self-imposed retirement pretty soon.

[cont. from sports page]

Although coming out of retirement to compete again has become en vogue in the world of sports, don't look for 1996 Olympic gold-medal gymnast Amanda Borden to join the club.

Actually, if you think about it, she may have started the trend.

"I just missed the team in 1992 (at age 15), and I really wanted to make the team the next time," Borden said Thursday while on a promotion tour stop at the 4-Star Athletic Complex. "But in gymnastics, 19 is already considered over the hill. I love gymnastics more than anything, but (in 1996) I feel like I was as good as I could have been. And that's fine with me.

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"I loved every minute of it, but I wanted to go to college and enjoy being young and having fun."

Even three years after that magical run in Atlanta, having fun still involves gymnastics for her. She's in her second summer of whirlwind tours across the country. She's been a commentator for the Goodwill Games. She has two majors at Arizona State that emphasize her gymnastics prowess: broadcasting and nutrition.

And she's a little shocked it's all still going on.

"It amazes me," the 22-year-old Borden said. "The last day of the Olympics, I thought, 'I'm done. I'll never do this again.' Never in my life did I think I'd still be doing this.

"My summer is crazy ... I get very rundown and I hate living out of a suitcase, but I love what I get to do."

And she loves to look back on what she's done, too.

"My parents came to visit me on July 23 - three years to the day after we won," Borden said. "We were sitting there, and I said, 'Can you imagine what my life was like three years ago?'"

"It's incredible, because I look at what I did and I think, 'How was I so disciplined? How was I in the gym eight hours a day?' And I loved every minute of it. Now that I'm not in the gym, I work out three hours, and, 'Whew. That's enough.'"

She's known where that line is all her life. But before 1996, she never crossed it.

"That's the hardest thing for a gymnast," Borden said. "At 16, you're just getting good, but then all those distractions come. You want to have fun, you want to have a boyfriend, you want to spend time with your friends.

"I just had to tell myself that when it's over, I'll be able to have boyfriends and stuff. But I still did a lot of things: I went to my prom, I graduated with my friends from high school. Those are the things that I couldn't do later on."

And she's doing all the other things now, just like she said. She's got a boyfriend, she goes out - "I'm legal. It's scary," she says - and, exactly as she promised herself, has plenty of fun.

"I wouldn't trade anything for what I do now," Borden said. "I loved what I was, but I love who I am now."

Which means as much as Borden loves to reminisce about her long road to fame, she won't be scheduling a press conference to announce her return to the balance beam anytime soon.

"I like to tell the kids, even if you don't make the Olympics, take advantage of what you have right now, because when it's over, it's over," Borden said. "When you're 30, you're going to look back and wish you could do what you did when you were 12.

"Heck, I'm only 22 and I'm already wishing I could be 12 again."

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