Aly Raisman: Olympic gymnastics champion says it’s good to be back home
After weeks in London where she competed against the greatest athletes in the world and had more than one stressful moment, Needham teen Aly Raisman said being home “is the best feeling in the world.”
The teen gymnast, who can now call herself an Olympic gold medalist, visited her Burlington gym Thursday where she trained for nearly eight years. She called it her second home and referred to her coaches there as a second set of parents.
“I almost literally lived here the past 7 years, especially the past year before the Olympics,” she said outside her gym, sitting next to her two gold medals and one bronze medal. “I would train here 7 1/2 hours a day.
“Words cannot describe how much they mean to me. They were basically like second parents,” Raisman said of Mihai and Silvia Brestyan, the owners of Brestyan’s gym.
Hundreds of people, including many young girls, lined up to see Raisman return to her second home.
She arrived in a Burlington police car followed by a Burlington fire truck with its siren blaring.
Young girls lined the street leading to the gym waving pom-poms and wearing Brestyan gym T-shirts with Raisman’s picture on them. The shirts were selling for $10 each.
“Being back here feels awesome. All of the love and support means so much to me,” she said.
Raisman said she isn’t yet sure where she’s going to put her Olympic medals, which she put on display for the crush of girls, parents and media members who strained to get a picture.
Her winning Olympic performances have propelled her into a New England sports star. Dozens of young girls gathered at gyms in and around her hometown to watch the live broadcast of her routines.
And Needham officials are planning a parade in her honor in September.
Standing inside the gym where Raisman pushed herself for nearly a decade, Mihai Brestyan said she was very polite and was one of the hardest worker’s he has seen.
He said he thinks she could go for gold again in 2016.
“She’s very young and very hard working,” he said. “I think she can do this again.”
When asked about what the future holds, Raisman didn’t rule out a return to the Olympics.
“It’s in the back of my mind,” she said of the 2016 Olympics, “but I’m just taking it one day at a time.”