This gymnast made history when she went to the Olympics at age 14 -- see what she looks like now
When Dominique Moceanu became the youngest U.S. gymnast in history to win a gold medal at 14, she wasn't thinking about the shadow of emotions that might follow.
She and the entire Magnificent Seven appeared on the Today Show and discussed what it's like for an Olympian to come back to the "real world."
High-profile gymnasts spend as many as 40 hours a week training. That's essentially a full-time job smack dab in the middle of their childhood and teenage years. They sacrifice proms, high school football games and everyday adolescent life.
For Moceanu and many other gymnasts, it's all worth it when they get to compete at the highest level.
"When we walked into that Georgia Dome with 33,000 people (cheering) for only USA," Moceanu said on the Today Show, "we were part of something magnificent and truly a big part of history."
"Even at 14, although I was a small child, I had the understanding of the magnificent moment that we had accomplished."
But when the crowd noise fades and the medals collect dust, it's a tough adjustment.
"When the pinnacle has been at 14," Moceanu said, "there's so much life ahead."
"I think the post-Olympic life is one of the hardest transitions for any elite athlete," she said. "You have to go through soul-searching. You have to find yourself. You have to learn to think for yourself."
After retiring from the sport, she became a gymnastics coach and a motivational speaker. She wrote a best-selling memoir in 2012 called "Off Balance." Now, she's married to a former Ohio State gymnast, and they have two children who are both aspiring gymnasts.
Moceanu and the Magnificent Seven reflect on their 1996 Atlanta memories in the video above.