June 06, 2012 04:45 PM

Andrew H. Walker/Getty

Olympic gold medalist Kerri Strug has a new, very special title: Mom!

The gymnast — who won the hearts of the country with her courageous vault in the 1996 Games — welcomed a son, Tyler William Fischer, on March 1.

Tyler was 7 lbs., 1 oz. at birth, which is quite notable considering his mother is 4’10”. “For me, he was large!” she jokes.

He is the first child for Strug, 34, and her husband, attorney Robert Fischer III. And the experience of having him, says the former gymnast, was not unlike the experience of training for the Olympics — and then actually being there.

“Everyone tells you, ‘When you have a child, you’ll understand,'” Strug tells PEOPLE.

“It’s kind of like my gymnastics training when people said, ‘Dreams do come true, anything’s possible.’ You hear these things and you really want to believe them, but you don’t quite get it until you go through it.”

“And it’s the same with Tyler. I understand it now, the immediate love.”

No word yet on whether Tyler will accompany his mom to this summer’s Olympic Games in London, but Strug will be there, working with Hilton HHonors Support the Dream, where fans can send their good wishes directly to members of Team USA.

Strug and Fisher were married in April 2010.

For much more on baby Tyler (including whether Mom wants him to be a gymnast, too) and exclusive photos, check back with PEOPLE.com on Thursday.

— Rennie Dyball

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