At the 2004 Summer Olympics, Carly Patterson became the first American woman in 20 years to win the gymnastics All-Around Olympic gold medal – since Mary Lou Retton in 1984. Patterson was born Feb. 4, 1988, in Baton Rouge, LA, the oldest of two children of Ricky and Natalie Patterson.
Patterson began gymnastics in 1994 after attending a cousin’s birthday party at Elite Gymnastics in Baton Rouge. Less than a decade later, she made her debut at the senior international elite level, winning back-to-back American Cup titles in 2003 and 2004, as well as the title of 2004 U.S. Co-National Champion. Patterson was also a part of the 2003 World Championships team, winning a silver medal in the all-around and helping lead the U.S. to their first-ever World Championship team gold medal. It was at this competition that her signature beam dismount, an Arabian double front, was officially named “the Patterson.” A year later, she achieved her ultimate goal in gymnastics by earning a trip to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
Patterson came home from Athens with three Olympic medals. The U.S. women won silver in the team competition – the first medal for the U.S. women in eight years, as well as the second-highest finish for Americans in a fully attended Olympic Games. Patterson also earned a silver medal in her specialty, the balance beam. As 2004 Olympic All-Around Champion, Patterson not only became the USA’s first Olympic all-around champion in 20 years, but also the first American woman to win an Olympic all-around title in a fully attended Olympic Games.
After the Olympics, Patterson appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” She also was featured on a network television special and adorned the front of a Wheaties box. She presented an award at the 2004 MTV Video Music Awards; was recognized by Glamour Magazine at the 2004 "Women Of The Year Awards”; and was honored as the March of Dimes’ “Sportswoman of the Year.”
In 2005, Patterson was selected as one of Teen People’s 20 Teens Who Will Change the World; walked the runway at New York Fashion Week to promote “The Heart Truth Red Dress Collection” to prevent heart disease; was nominated for the Sullivan Award honoring the best amateur athlete; and was nominated for an ESPY Award in the Best Olympic Performance category.
Patterson’s interests include singing, which is the next career she would like to pursue. Most recently, she published her autobiography, “Be Strong,” and made an appearance in the movie “Stick It.”