Gymnast: Carly Patterson

Gymnast Carly Patterson performs on floor at the 2004 Olympics
Carly Patterson on floor at the 2004 Olympics. © Stuart Hannagan / Getty Images

Carly Patterson won the Olympic all-around title in 2004, becoming only the second American woman to win. (In 1984, Mary Lou Retton was the first, 2008, Nastia Liukin became the third, and in 2012, Gabby Douglas became the fourth.)

The Stand-Out Junior:

Patterson was a big talent from an early age: she made the junior national team in 2000 at age 12, the youngest gymnast to qualify that year. She also placed fourth in the all-around and second on beam. Two years later, she won the junior national all-around title.

A Stunning Senior Debut:

Patterson’s first international meet as a senior came early in 2003, at the American Cup. She took the all-around, beating out world champions (and American teammates) Courtney Kupets and Ashley Postell.

Though she had to sit out the 2003 US nationals with an elbow injury, she recovered in time to compete at the 2003 World Championships. At worlds she helped the team take its first-ever gold, and won the all-around silver -- the first world all-around medal for the US women since Shannon Miller in 1994.

Living Up to the Hype:

By 2004, Patterson was widely regarded as the top US gymnast and the best hope for Olympic all-around gold. She only increased expectations with a gold-medal sweep of every event at the 2004 American Cup, and an all-around win alongside Courtney Kupets at the 2004 US Nationals.

At the 2004 Olympics, Patterson led the all-around after preliminaries, but made uncharacteristic errors on bars in the team finals. The US team placed a disappointing second, but Patterson came through in the all-around finals two days later. She edged three-time world all-around Champion Svetlana Khorkina 38.387 to 38.211 to take gold. She later earned a silver in the beam individual event finals.

Cool Skills:

Best-known for her impressive beam repertoire, Patterson was the first to perform an Arabian double front dismount (at 1:15) (called the Patterson), and also competed a back full (at :13) and standing Arabian (at :33) during her career.

On vault, Patterson twisted a Yurchenko double full, and on floor, she threw a half-in half-out (at :16) and double Arabian (at :30).

Patterson’s Singing Career:

Patterson took time off after the 2004 Games to heal a back injury she’d had throughout the competition, and announced her retirement from the sport shortly thereafter. She then turned her attention to a singing career. She appeared on the FOX show Celebrity Duets, and signed a record contract with MusicMind Records. Patterson released her first single, Temporary Life (Ordinary Girl) in March 2008.

Personal Info:

Patterson was born February 4, 1988 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to parents Ricky and Natalie Patterson. She has one younger sister Jordan. Patterson married Mark Caldwell in 2012.

Gymnastics Results:


  • 2004 Olympics: 2nd team; 1st all-around; 2nd beam
  • 2004 Pacific Alliance Championships: 1st team; 2nd all-around; 1st beam; 1st floor
  • 2004 American Cup: 1st all-around; 1st vault; 1st bars; 1st beam; 1st floor
  • 2003 World Championships: 1st team; 2nd all-around
  • 2003 Visa American Cup: 1st all-around; 2nd vault; 2nd bars; 1st beam; 3rd floor
  • 2002 Pacific Alliance (Jr. Division): 1st team; 2nd all-around; 1st vault; 2nd bars; 1st beam; 1st floor
  • 2002 Gymnix International: 1st team; 1st all-around; 1st vault; 5th bars; 2nd beam; 2nd floor
  • 2001 Goodwill Games: 7th all-around; 5th beam


  • 2004 Olympic Trials: 3rd all-around; 1st floor
  • 2004 US Nationals: 1st all-around (tie); 2nd beam; 1st floor
  • 2002 US Nationals (Jr. Division): 1st all-around; 2nd bars; 2nd beam; 3rd floor
  • 2001 US Nationals (Jr. Division): 3rd all-around; 2nd beam
  • 2000 US Nationals (Jr. Division): 4th all-around; 2nd beam; 4th floor

Carly Patterson's Official Website