Don't you know I'm still standing better than I ever did

Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid

I'm still standing after all this time

Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind

I'm still standing yeah, yeah, yeah,

I'm still standing yeah, yeah, yeah

Elton John

“I’m Still Standing”

 

I have known Terin Humphrey for too many years than either one of us would probably like to admit.

The former Great American Gymnastics Express protege became America’s sweetheart after winning an individual silver on the uneven bars and a team silver medal in the 2004 Summer Games in Athens.

She unveiled her Olympic-themed tattoo of the Olympic rings on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and sat next to Nicolas Cage at the world premier of the movie “National Treasure.”

She went on a whirlwind nationwide tour of sold-out arenas, with other members of America’s team, and then earned even more respect and attention during a standout career with the University of Alabama gymnastics team.

She graduated, became a police officer in Raymore, Mo., and is the type of individual who makes everyone proud.

But I knew Terin long before she won her first medal or was sitting on the couch at “The Tonight Show.” I smile when I recall a conversation I had with her mom who said she knew young Terin would be a gymnast when she caught her 3-year-old daughter scaling the kitchen cabinets.

I knew her before she was an Olympian, just a kid with two amazing parents who was going to do everything she could to reach her dream of performing on the Olympic stage.

Unlike many who try and fail to reach the upper echelon of their respective sport, Humphrey succeeded, and did it with grace and style – never forgetting where she came from and the people who helped her make her dream come true.

After she retired from the sport, Humphrey became heavily involved with USA Gymnastics and was a member of the selection committee that chose the U.S. women's teams for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

She became an athlete representative on the USA Gymnastics' Athlete Council in 2009 but was removed from the position earlier this month following a Facebook post that stated: “What champions consider coaching is what the entitled consider abuse.”

This comment came from the heart. She is a straight shooter whose comments are black and white. There is no gray area when it comes to Terin Humphrey.

In light of the recent USA Gymnastics sexual abuse scandal – in which more than 368 individuals, who are mostly minors, have been abused by coaches, doctors and staff for more than two decades – it might be easy to misinterpret Humphrey’s post.

She said she was not referring to the likes of Public Enemy No. 1, imprisoned former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, no, Humphrey was writing about the toughness, drive and heart it takes to reach the pinnacle in her demanding sport.

She spent eight to 12 hours a day at the GAGE Center and her hard work paid off in Olympic glory. To a lesser individual, much of her training regimen could be seen as abuse.

To an Olympic warrior, it was part of the process. While her friends were out eating pizza and going to the movies, she was working on the perfect landing off the uneven bars.

After the abuse scandal broke, I immediately called her, and she was so upset. Humphrey wanted to reach out to any of the gymnasts who had been abused, to comfort and console them, and I could tell that her heart was in the right place (see related story for her side of the story).

This is a difficult time for Terin, but I know she will weather the storm and, in the words of Elton John, “...come out standing better than I ever did.”

– Bill Althaus is a sports writer and columnist for The Examiner. Reach him at bill.althaus@examiner.net or 816-350-6333. Follow him on Twitter: @AlthausEJC