Even when young and untested, Michelle Campi was a polished gymnast who excelled in competition and was praised by judges. The European judges of the time were especially appreciated of Michelle's elegance and lines, a direct contrast to some of the more powerful American gymnasts they'd grown accustomed to. Regardless, Michelle's memory as a U.S. elite gymnast will always be tainted by the political events that surrounded her placement on various U.S. teams.
Michelle Campi began gymnastics in Florida. Like many elite gymnasts, it wasn't long before the family picking up everything and moved States in pursuit of the ideal training centre for their daughter's Olympic dream. The Campi's first move was to the "mecca" of US gymnastics -- Bela Karolyi's ranch in Houston, Texas. Too young to train under Karolyi, Campi was placed in Rick Newman's promising young group gymnast. The politics soon began....
In 1989, Rick Newman and Celi Campi fell in love. After they left their spouses and moved in together, the gossip in Karolyi's parents' lounge was too much, and Karolyi asked Newman to leave, recommending him for a job at Pozsar's gym in Sacramento, CA. Although Michelle excelled under Newman at Poszar's, it did not appear that her standings (14th at the 1991 US Nationals and 8th at the US World Team Trials) would merit a position on the 1991 World Championship team.
Then, in a highly political move following podium training, Michelle Campi was awarded a spot on the team, while Desert Devils teammates Liz Crandall and 1991 Athlete of the Year Sandy Woolsey (2nd at the 1991 US Nationals and 6th at the 1991 World Team Trials) were sidelined as alternates. Michelle certainly made the best of her good fortune, with seven of her eight scores counting towards the team's silver medal.
Michelle's medal-winning performances at the 1992 US Nationals (3rd AA and 2nd UB) reaffirmed her role as an important team member, quieting many critics. Michelle, it seemed, was on her way to a well-earned spot on the 1992 Olympic team..
Then, the night before the Olympic Trials in Baltimore, Michelle injured her arm, tearing the tendon away from the elbow and fracturing the bone. Michelle sat out these trials, focusing instead on the second "closed-door trials" to be held in Florida one month later. For the next month, Michelle trained intensely, so much so, in fact, that she developed a stress fracture in her hip.
Remarkably though, Michelle pushed on and competed in the "closed-door trials." Michelle was able to hit most of her routines, but did miss her hands on one of her vaults. Nevertheless, she was chosen to attend the US training camp in France, held two weeks before the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Also invited was Betty Okino, who had competed in neither the US Championships nor the official Olympic Trials, and who had nearly fallen off the beam at the "closed-doors trials" in Florida.
The athlete cut from the team as a result of these "closed-door trials" was Kim Kelly. At the time, Kelly was the healthiest athlete out of all the girls in consideration. She had competed in both the US Championships and the official Olympic Trials, both times beating out Wendy Bruce. Furthermore, at the "closed-door trials," Kelly was one of the few athletes to hit all eight routines (4 compulsory routines and 4 optional routines). Michelle's (and Betty's) spot on the 1992 Olympic team was again surrounded in controversy.
At the training camp in France, Michelle further injured herself, tearing a hip muscle. By default, she became the team alternate. Although she joined the team on the podium at the 1992 Olympics, Michelle's dreams were clearly left unfulfilled. Interestingly, Michelle was the one athlete from this team who vowed to continue towards the 1996 Olympics.
In 1994, just days before the American Classic, Michelle again injured herself. Practicing on the uneven bars, she fell from the higher bar, fracturing her 9th, 10th and 11th vertebrae. Rods were inserted into her spine to stabilize the three vertebrae, and she spent four months in a brace. As a result of this incidence, Pozsar fired Newman. He, Celi and Michelle packed up their things and moved to Steve Nunno's gym in Oklahoma. Michelle retired not too long after, accepting a gymnastics scholarship at the University of Washington.
Michelle competed beam and floor her freshman year only, forced into medical retirement thereafter. After graduating in November 2000, where she studied narration, literature, and film, Michelle headed to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Michelle told Inside Gymnastics that she’s very happy in San Juan. Her uncle is an ice cream distributor in Puerto Rico, and her mother bought a Ben & Jerry’s shop in Old San Juan. Michelle works at this shop, where she is helping her mother run the business. “It’s great! It’s not a typical ice cream shop, we have a lot of art and we do an open mike every Wednesday with music and poetry.”
Michelle expects to be in San Juan for the next couple of years, after which point she’d like to go back to school.
Michelle Campi was born on July 29, 1976
. This page was created on May 22, 1999 and last updated July 2002.