Olympic champion Aly Raisman relishes commentary ‘challenge’ ahead of NCAA gymnastics championships

As an athlete, six-time Olympic medalist Ali Raisman of the United States has made a name for herself as one of the hardest workers in gymnastics.

Those who dared to doubt Raisman on the competitive field were met with resistance that came with absolute preparation.

The result was one of the most iconic careers of any American gymnast.

Raisman led Team USA to back-to-back Olympic titles, first with the Fierce Five at London 2012 and then with the Final Five at Rio 2016. Individually, she owns the 2012 floor gold, the competition multiple and floor 2016. silver and a bronze medal on beam in 2012.

Nearly eight years removed from her last competitive performance in Brazil, Raisman brings her same playground mentality to her first time in the ESPN commentary booth at this week’s NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships (18- April 20) in Fort Worth.

“Preparation is really important, just like when I was competing or training, when I was competing well, it was preparation and just knowing that I had done everything I could,” Raisman said during the a press briefing before the event alongside the co-presenter. John Roethlisberger, a three-time Olympian. “I’m still working on it and learning, but I’ve really enjoyed the process.”

Raisman made her commentary debut earlier this season during a dual meet at Louisiana State University alongside Roethlisberger, a 53-year-old experienced hand for collegiate and elite gymnastics.

“She had the opportunity to compete in the NCAA championships, and some people might be surprised to see her there in her first year,” he said. “But I will tell you, she came into this job with a passion for this profession and a true desire to excel at it.

“I don’t think there’s anyone else who wants to do athletes justice more than she does,” continued the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympian. “That doesn’t mean that others don’t, but she has just as much passion and desire to treat these athletes in a way that celebrates them and makes it exciting for those watching.”

Although Raisman admits she gets “very nervous” during live streams, she says she enjoys stepping out of her comfort zone.

“It’s just been a really good exercise in learning how to try to be really concise, because with live TV you don’t have a lot of time to talk and make a point, (you have to) say it quickly, but also tell it in a way that, whether you’re a long-time gymnastics fan or a new fan, is digestible and easy for people to understand,” Raisman explained. “It’s been a really exciting challenge and. interesting.”

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