Picture Aly Raisman's gymnastics life as a balance beam. At one end is her early career as a gymnast when she started with "Mommy and Me" classes. Now she is about three-quarters onto the beam — training for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Lynn Raisman has helped guide Aly's journey across the beam. Lynn is Aly's mother and one of her biggest boosters.
Over the past eight or nine years, Lynn has traveled near and far to support her daughter as a fan and, most importantly, as a mom.
"I guess [I've been traveling with her] since she was probably 9 or 10 years old," Lynn said. "I would accompany her to meets. The travel wasn't as extensive and the distance and the frequencies certainly weren't that much when she was young."
The time on the road allowed mother and daughter to bond.
"When I do get to travel with [Aly], it's really nice," Lynn said. "You’re juggling being the mother and making sure she's resting and taking care of herself."
No father is prouder than Rick Raisman. He, along with Lynn, admits that they didn't think about their daughter, when she was younger, advancing this far and competing in the Olympics. Not until the 2010 World Championships did Rick think Aly had a legitimate chance at striking gold.
"You don't ever know for sure," Rick said with a smile wider than the distance between Boston and London.
Since Aly's plane touched down in Boston on July 2 after the Olympic trials in San Jose, Calif., she has been the local center of attention, especially with members of the media. Aly is still only 18 years old, and her mom knows that handling the experience — all of the excitement and thoughts going through Aly's head — might be hard. But for this typical Needham, Mass., family, they are doing everything they can to support her.
Aly is the oldest of four children. She has a younger brother, Brett, and two younger sisters, Chloe and Madison.
When asked what the younger siblings think about the excitement around their older sister, the parents were sure to mention that this is a victory for the entire family as well.
"[The other kids] are excited," Rick said. "I mean, my son is 16 so he gets it a lot more than the younger girls. So he's into it. He watches every single second and wants to go to every single meet. He's one of her biggest fans, by far."
The younger sisters — Chloe at 12, Madison at 10 — don't have quite the same understanding yet.
"It's different," Lynn said. "They’re just kind of like, 'Oh, this is what she does.'"
Aly leaves for Texas on July 11 to begin training with her U.S. Olympic gymnast teammates. From there, Aly heads to London where she will jump, flip and spin her way across the beam, looking to stick the landing, proud to be an American on the biggest stage in the world.
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