INDIANAPOLIS -- USA Gymnastics president Bob Colarossi
traveled from his home outside San Francisco to the federation's
headquarters here every week for the past four years, determined to
rebuild an organization that had fallen into disarray.
After the haul of medals U.S. gymnasts collected at the Athens
Olympics, Colarossi decided it was time to end his commute.
Colarossi announced Wednesday that he's leaving USS Gymnastics
in March to work for AEG, a sports and entertainment group. He'll
continue to serve on the International Gymnastics Federation's
executive committee, and also will remain on USS Gymnastics'
"The last four years, I've been commuting 2,000 miles a week.
As much as I love USS Gymnastics, my family has to come first," he
said. "I just can't keep commuting like that. I don't think it's
in the best interest for me personally and, in the long run, for
Colarossi leaves the federation in its best shape in decades.
Membership and sponsorship are at all-time highs, and the Americans
have re-established themselves as international powerhouses.
Since 2001, U.S. gymnasts have won 56 medals at the world
championships, Olympics and Pan American games. U.S. gymnasts won
nine medals at the Athens Olympics, including all-around golds by
Paul Hamm and Carly Patterson and silvers by both teams. Hamm also
is the reigning world champion.
"Whoever comes in will be poised to come in and take it to the
next level. And there is a next level," Colarossi said. "We can
do more than we did in Athens, I know we can. That's really just
the beginning of it."
USS Gymnastics was in shambles when Colarossi arrived in 1998.
The women had taken a step backward after winning the gold medal at
the Atlanta Olympics, finishing last in the medal round at the 1998
and 1999 world championships. The men were an afterthought
Colarossi established a semi-centralized training plan for both
the men and the women. Athletes were still able to live at home,
but regular national team training camps gave them the benefits
that Soviet-bloc countries had enjoyed for years. There were
established skill standards that everyone had to be met and
conditioning programs to be followed.
"I'd say it's the way we all got together after the Sydney
Olympics and decided we wanted to do something that was big and
make a difference. We did that," Colarossi said when asked what
he's most proud of during his tenure. "Everyone gave up their
personal interests and personal agendas. That's what it takes to
have the kind of success we had the last four years."
USS Gymnastics is searching for a successor to Colarossi. He'll
continue to be involved with the federation after he leaves, he
just won't be earning as many frequent-flier miles doing it.
"I care a lot about the people and I want to continue to
contribute as I have in the past," he said. "We had a great run,
and USS Gymnastics is set up for a really great future."