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Gymnast Carly Patterson Won Olympic Gold 17 Years Ago. See Her Now.

The gold medalist embarked on a surprising new career after the 2004 games.

The the past four Olympics Summer Games, the U.S. has won the gold medal in the women's individual all-around in gymnastics. In 2016, Simone Biles won. In 2012, it was Gabby Douglas at the top of the podium. In 2008, Nastia Liukin took home the gold. And in 2004, the athlete who started off the trend was gymnast Carly Patterson. At 16 years old, Patterson won the gold in the individual all-around, the silver with her teammates in the team all-around, and another silver in the balance beam event competition.

It's hard to believe, but the 2004 Athens games were 17 years ago. At 33, Patterson has long been retired from gymnastics. In the years since she won those medals, she's made some new career moves, gotten married, and welcomed children. Read on to find out more about what Patterson is up to today.

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Patterson retired from gymnastics after the 2004 Olympics.

Carly Patterson on the balance beam at the 2004 Olympics
Stuart Hannagan/Getty Images

As her website explains, after the 2004 Olympics, Patterson was diagnosed with bulging discs in her back, and she subsequently made the decision to retire. In an interview during the 2009 Visa Championships, Patterson said, "Not a lot of people know this, I started having some back issues. And honestly, my doctor was like, 'Carly you really need to stop, if you want to be able to walk when you get older' … So I retired and moved on to singing and a new career and goal."

Her singing career came soon after.

Carly Patterson at the 2004 MTV Video Music Awards
DFree /

In the late mid-aughts, Patterson launched a music career. In 2006, she appeared on the series Celebrity Duets, singing alongside pop artist Jesse McCartney. She then signed with Music Mind Records, and released an album titled Back to the Beginning. Her song "Here I Am" was used to promote the ABC Family show, Make It or Break It, which is about gymnasts. She also made some music videos, including one for the song "Time to Wake Up."

"Nothing is being handed to me," Patterson told The Los Angeles Times in 2008 of her music. "I have to knock on doors, call people, e-mail people. I literally beg people to listen to my songs."

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She's now a public speaker.

Patterson career took another turn after she tried out music. Patterson is now a motivational speaker and gives her keynote address at events. Patterson speaks about her gymnastics career and how the motivation she had can be applied in other parts of her life. "Carly's authentic, humorous, and down-to-earth communication style is the perfect vehicle for a message that students, athletes, and professionals need to hear in order to embrace true success and find lasting fulfillment," reads her website.

She hasn't left the gymnastics world completely behind.

Patterson's website explains that she can be hired to do clinics at gyms and that she participates in Flip Fest and others gymnastics camps. Patterson also spoke out in support of her fellow gymnasts when they came forward with claims of abuse against now-convicted Team USA doctor Larry Nassar.

Patterson is married and has three children.


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A post shared by Carly Patterson Caldwell (@carlypatterson04)

Patterson has been married to Mark Caldwell since 2012, and they have three children together: three-year-old Graham, two-year-old Emmaline Rae, and five-month-old Pearson. Patterson has been open about the fertility struggles she and husband experienced, including having three rounds of intrauterine insemination, as reported by People. When she welcomed her third child earlier this year, she told People, "It's a boy! It was a crazy day: Rolling blackouts throughout Texas, power kept going on and off at the hospital (very scary), global pandemic and snowmageddon. This baby made a grand entrance."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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