Olympian Kerri Strug on Her Daughter's Love of Gymnastics: I Will Be 'Supportive' of Whatever She Chooses

"She likes doing board rolls … she has a lot of energy," Strug told PEOPLE

Kerri Strug was 18 years old when she made history for her heroic vault that won the U.S. gymnastics team gold at the 1996 Olympics.

Now 37, Strug is a mother of two and her daughter Alayna Madaleine, 14 months, has just begun a “movers and shakers” kiddie class. Might there be a future gymnast in the works?

“She does seem to really like doing board rolls and things like that, she has a lot of energy,” Strug told PEOPLE while celebrating Epson’s EcoTank “Swimming in Ink” event with the U.S. National Synchronized Swimming Team, which took place in New York City on Thursday.

She adds, “But I want it to be up to her in whatever she chooses to do, I want to be supportive.”

Kerri Strug


Courtesy Kerri Strug

While Strug believes gymnastics is great because it “teaches so many things” and “requires so much dedication and determination at such a young age,” she admits that other sports allow for a more extended career.

“On some level, I hope that she turns to tennis or golf or something you can do for a lifetime,” Strug explains. “But it’s not going to be up to me. It’s going to be where her passion lies and I’m going to help support her.”

Strug was part of the Magnificent Seven, the U.S. gymnastics team that won the first gold medal in the women’s team competition in 1996. With the 20th anniversary of the ’96 Olympics and the historic win coming up, Strug says “in some ways it seems just like yesterday.”

“I can’t believe that it’s almost been two decades,” Strug shares. “I was 18 at the time, so it’s been longer than I was old!”

The members of the Seven are often brought together at different events, and Strug has remained closest with fellow gymnast Dominique Moceanu.

“It’s nice to hear about her kids and try to do the ‘mommy talk’ thing,” Strug explains. “But also, occasionally, we like to reminisce about our gymnastics days!”

Strug wed attorney Robert Fischer in 2010. The two welcomed their first child, son Tyler William, now 3, in 2012. The family currently lives in Tucson, Arizona.

As for whether Strug herself ever practices her old sport, the former gymnast says with a laugh: “No — I like to keep my feet on the ground!”

— Aurelie Corinthios

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