Thursday, February 3, 2011

Know a Coach - Kim Zmeskal Burdette

What is there to say about Kim Zmeskal-Burdette that the average gymnastics enthusiast doesn't already know? She was the leader of the Karolyi Six Pack, the 1991 World All-Around Champion, and the USA's shining hope for AA gold in Barcelona. She was known for her power on floor and her solidity on beam--not to mention that gorgeous mount.

Zmeskal-Burdette isn't tumbling much herself these days--at least, not in the public eye. But as owner of Texas Dreams Gymnastics (along with husband Chris Burdette), who knows what skills she throws around when the athletes have all gone home? I like to think she still has a whipback series in her.

Maybe not. But who knows?

Zmeskal-Burdette was born in Houston, Texas on February 6, 1976. She trained as a gymnast under Bela Karolyi from a young age, in the very same gym as 1984 Olympic Champion and current Trivial Pursuit answer Mary Lou Retton. By the age of thirteen, Zmeskal-Burdette was a rising star, as well as U.S. Junior National Champion. Two years later, she shocked the world by becoming the first American woman to win the World Championship All-Around gold medal.

Most of us know this story, but we can rehash it briefly for those who don't. After a fantastic showing at Olympic Trials in 1992, Zmeskal-Burdette was named to the team and was expected to come home with some major hardware--including a possible All-Around gold medal. But a fall off the beam during compulsories on the first night of competition forced her to fight back hard to even earn a spot in the All Around--which she did. Zmeskal-Burdette helped the American team reach the podium in bronze medal position, but after a mistake during her floor routine in the All-Around, she ended up 10th.

It wasn't the dream, but for godsake, she had two major, uncharacteristic errors and STILL managed to come in tenth. Not. Too. Shabby.

Injuries put the kabosh on later attempts at a return to the Olympics, but at one time, Zmeskal-Burdette was considered a serious potential contender for the 2000 team--eight years after her first Olympics. She wanted to be the old lady on the team before being the old lady was cool.

Her talent and knowledge of the sport would not go to waste, however. In 2000, Kim married Chris Burdette, and together they opened Texas Dreams Gymnastics in Coppell, Texas in 2001. 

As a coach and gym owner, Zmeskal-Burdette has produced several elite-level athletes, including current Senior National Team member and Georgia recruit Chelsea Davis, and Junior National Team member Kennedy Baker. Chelsea Davis was also named to the 2011 World Championships team, although injury during training right before the competition left her off the floor.

The Burdettes are parents to three young children, two boys and one girl. Zmeskal-Burdette has often been mentioned by gymnatics enthusiasts as a possible eventual National Team Coordinator, a position currently held by her former coach's wife, Martha Karolyi.

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