Aly Raisman: The local gymnast who could soon be a household name

Needham's Aly Raisman will be seeking individual gold Thursday.

It’s been an Olympic-sized 10 months for Needham’s Aly Raisman, but the journey has been well worth it.

On July 1, Raisman was chosen to represent the United States in the 2012 Olympics for the women’s gymnastics team, a goal set and accomplished after a lifetime of training but perhaps less than a year of realistic possibility. 

Her rise happened fast: A torn Achilles to reigning Olympian Alicia Sacramone in Tokyo before the World Championships in October thrust Raisman into a leadership role — a role that she shined in. Because of her efforts and that of the team’s, they won gold. 

A month later, she turned down a scholarship from the University of Florida, instead electing to turn pro and sign with the same agent that represents Olympic heroes Michael Phelps and Apolo Anton Ohno.

Her already intense training regimen at Brestyan’s American Gymnasium in Burlington – six days a week, double sessions – picked up even more.

Comcast SportsNet special projects producer Torey Champagne has been exclusively videographing Raisman’s every vault, flip, and tumble since October 2011 all the way to Raisman being named to the Olympic team. Through her ups and downs, he’s seen the way she’s grown since production began.

“She’s been a solid gymnast [her whole life], but kind of lingered in the background,” Champagne said to Metro Boston of Raisman. “But her performance in Tokyo really solidified her as a top contender to make the Olympic Team. Upon her return home after that, it was a whirlwind. Athletes just reach that level when they figure it out and start to peak. And she peaked hard when she came back. Going forward, it was a steady progression.”

She placed top three in four more major competitions over the coming months including a “Sports Woman of the Year” award voted on by her peers in the 2012 Visa Championships in June. 

But there were occasional bumps along the way – bumps that Raisman says she has to brush off in order to succeed at an Olympic level.

“Gymnastics definitely forces me to grow up and be more mature just because I am dealing with so many emotions,” Raisman said in preparation of Champagne’s documentary on the gymnast. “One minute I’m happy, and the next if you fall on a turn you’re upset, so you really have to grow up and suck it up and know what you want in the sport.”

Raisman knows what she wants now – Olympic gold. It’s how she put herself in the position to achieve it though that’s fascinating to watch. 

“Aly Raisman: Quest for Gold” airs in a three-part series on Comcast SportsNet New England starting Monday at 8 p.m. and concluding on Wednesday.


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