Don’t confuse “hot” with “hawt”. The former merely implies physical appeal; the latter, though, means you’re both gorgeous and sassy and media-worthy and so on. It appears ex-Olympian Alicia Sacramone has, in her post-Beijing travels, become quite hawt. Well, she was always so, but now the big news is that she’s dating someone. Why is this news? Oh, right. Because she’s no longer a competitive gymnast, she’s a celebrity. We used to care about her scores, and now we’re cataloging her beaus.
It’s one of several answers to that oft-asked question: What does a gymnast do after the Olympics (which is probably the only time anyone notices or cares about the sport)? Simple. She either finishes high school / college, goes out and gets a job—or she tries her darnedest to stay hawt. Monica Sardinia (cheap plug warning) didn’t get the whole celebrity aspect of the sport. She did it because it was a means to an end, but it was all drills and skills, going through the motions of being a cutesy celebrity in order to affect her ultimate goal: Olympus. She had to be a gymnast in order to become a celebrity in order to continue being a gymnast.
There are parallels in the non-fictional world. Parents, coaches, clubs, and promoters are trying desperately to make celebrities out of their little acrobats. Gymnastics isn’t a money sport unless you’re on the Olympic team or attending a prestigious college. Your typical elite meet is a collection of quieter, more refined triumphs—you can’t get your audience excited in the same way Kobe Bryant can when he scores. Unless, again, it’s an Olympic year. Sure, there are endorsement deals, books, TV shows, pseudo-celebrity status augmented by plastic surgery and / or liposuction, but you’re splashing in a sea filled with bigger, more obnoxious football and basketball players. The results vary greatly. Shannon Miller has become a professional speaker and broadcaster; Carly Patterson has been trying since 2004 to spark her singing career; Shawn Johnson is touting a new book, as well as sticking close to Sacramone via her new Covergirl deal.
These are just the gals with an affinity for the limelight. The ones you hear about in the news. Everyone else has found their own version of hawtness in finishing school, starting families, or coaching. Doni Thompson, who last competed for UCLA, started a gym with her husband; Elena Zamolodchikova (try saying that name two times fast!) achieved lieutenant status in the Russian military and a mentoring position at her gym. Countless others have left their glory days behind and have become ordinary citizens. You can go both ways, it seems. Practicality or popularity.
Still, Sacramone is hawt, and she pulls it off well, having effectively used her competitive career as a springboard to stardom. If she resists the temptation to pull a Michael Phelps, big things await her down the road.