How did gymnastics change his life? “When you train that many hours, that hard, you don’t lead a normal life,” he says. “It isn’t a bad life, just different. And after you put yourself through that kind of discipline, you’re different from most other people, too. But I loved it. I loved getting into really good shape and seeing something of the world. I think gymnastics helped me in all kinds of ways, even in getting good grades.”
Last year, Casey was honored by the U.S. Gymnastics Federation as an “All-American” for his talent on the horizontal bar. He was on the U.S. team that competed in the world championships in 1994, and was the 1993 Junior Elite National All-Around Champion. The “high bar” (horizontal bar) and tumbling are his favorite events, and he hopes to compete in both at the Summer Games.
Beyond the Olympics, Casey is training hard for another challenge: a career as a physical therapist, helping people to recover from injuries or cope with physical disabilities.
Casey says he thinks every teenager ought to “stay busy. I really think gymnastics kept me out of a lot of trouble when I was younger, because it gave me something interesting to do. When I don’t have a schedule, I don’t get as much done. So I think if you work hard and discipline yourself, you’ll go someplace.”
Cristina Teuscher, swimming: “Cristina has a real single-mindedness,” says her coach, John Collins. “When she puts her mind to something, she seems to be able to get it, whether it’s in swimming or school or other things.”
“I think he means I’m stubborn,” laughs Cristina, a high school senior in Larchmont, New York. In 1994, Cristina was the U.S. national champion in the 200-meter freestyle event; this year, she’s aiming for the” Olympics.
“I definitely am competitive by nature, though more in swimming than at school,” she says. “I guess swimming takes care of that part of me. Swimming has been good, though, because when you swim with a club or on a team, it isn’t just you. There are other people, and you have to learn to communicate, especially in the relay.”
Cristina started swimming with the New York Aquatic Club at age 6, under coaches Kip and Carly Fierro. “The funny thing is, I wasn’t really crazy about swimming at first, when I was 6 or 7. My mom knew I really loved the water, but I did not like workouts, and I used to kick and scream when she’d drag me off to practice.”
The best parts of swimming are “that I’m still friends with people I met years ago” and that “it’s a challenge. I like challenges.”
Like gymnast Casey Bryan, Cristina thinks her commitment to sports gave her an excuse “to stay out of a lot of social stuff that would have been hard to deal with. Being a teenager today can be scary. So I stay busy swimming. I think the thing is, as long as you love and respect yourself, mind and body, and respect other people, you’ll be OK.”
Andre Scott, track and field: Andre Scott grew up in the small town of Sanford, Florida, where he remembers racing to win elementary school fitness medals.
In elementary school and junior high, Andre competed in 100-meter dashes and the long jump. “But when I got to high school, the coach told me he wanted me to try the triple jump,” he remembers. “I didn’t know what it was. [The triple is sometimes called the ‘hop, step, and jump.’ The athlete makes a running start, jumps, lands on the same foot from which he/she took off, takes one step onto the other foot and jumps again. Whew! “But he said I had speed and I could jump–all the ingredients for a triple–jumper.”