tv Piers Morgan Tonight CNN June 11, 2012 12:00am-1:00am EDT
it's hard to believe we're fewer than 50 days away from the olympics. the world will be there. for america the best athletes will be hoping to take home the gold. of the game mastics team, the national team is taking place this weekend. the last great contest before the games themselves. i've talked with star nastia liukin in just a moment. but first let's get to preparations under way back in london. days after the jubilee, the city is working around the clock to get ready. let's start with richard quest, who is at the heart of things. richard? >> reporter: piers, barely have we got over all that excitement of the jubilee and finally dried out. and now get ready for the olympics in 49 days' time. 10,500 athletes from more than 200 countries will be arriving in the british capital. the olympic torch is north of the border in scotland, making its way around glasgow, and when all is said and done and the games are over, the british will have spent the best part of $40 billion hosting the games.
tidying up now 30 or so olympic venues, making sure the city is spruced up and clean, ready for 5 million visitors. and who knows, piers, we may even manage to turn our boat round on the thames. >> quite agree, richard. they should make an olympic sport of turning boats around. we would go home with the gold. from basketball to boxing america is determined to bring home the gold. and for many the gymnastics team has the best chance include iing nastia liukin who got a record five medals in beijing. i spoke to her recently. you'll see why she has a very special reason to feel pride in america. nastia, how are you? >> good, thank you. >> now, what i love about you, you've come with a nice little handbag. >> i have. >> when i asked you what was inside it, you said your medals. >> uh-huh. >> prove it. >> okay. >> i want to see your medals. >> they're in little baggies. it's a little gold bag for the gold. >> gold bag for the gold ones. >> yeah.
>> and these are all from beijing. >> yes. >> so this is a genuine olympic gold medal. >> it's real. >> i've never touched one before. >> really? >> they're pretty cool, aren't they? >> yep. >> so they're quite heavy. >> they are heavy, especially when you have five. >> and they have your inscription. you've got five of them, so there. >> yeah. >> what does it feel like to actually own olympic gold medals? >> it's kind of surreal. because, you know, this is something you've been dreaming about for your whole entire life. and ever since i knew what the word olympics meant, i always knew that i wanted to win a gold medal at the olympic games. now to hold it and know that it's actually mine, it's almost like, you know, 23 years is like in this one little piece of medal. and so it's kind of a lot to take in when you're just sitting there looking at it, because it's very -- it's surreal to know that your dreams have come true. and, you know, not many people's do.
because only one person can win that olympic all-around gold medal and to know that i was that one in 2008 is incredible. >> here's the weird thing about you, which i want to explore, because i'm just a humble brit. trying to get to grips with the american olympic squad. here you are. you're called nastia liukin. you're born in moscow. both your parents are russian and both competed for the soviet union. >> yes. >> right? why are you representing america, and why are you speaking in this lovely american accent? why are you not speaking like this and representing russia? >> well, we moved over to the united states when i was 2 1/2 years old. and my parents, after they finished their competitive career in gymnastics, their dream was to always open up a gist nast ticks school and coach gymnasts and hopefully on to world championships and olympic games. and they knew that back at the the time in 1989, 1990, that wasn't really possible in russia.
and so that they knew they wanted to move to the united states to hopefully give the opportunity to be able to create a gymnastics school. and so that's kind of what they did is, you know, they packed a few suitcases, not much money, just a toddler, me, and got on a plane and just went after their dreams. >> where did you start in america? >> new orleans, out of all places. and it was the week of mardi gras when we moved. >> must have been a crazy thing for the family. >> it was crazy. i was 2 1/2 years old. my parents didn't know a lick of english. and, you know, here we are in the middle of mardi gras. and they were like, oh, my gosh, what have we done? where have we moved? and, you know, things ended up being okay. we stayed there for a year. and then we moved to dallas. >> you look for all intents and purposes like a classic dallas girl. >> i do? >> yeah. and yet -- >> do i take that as a compliment? >> yes. i love the girls of dallas. but it's just strange to me. do you ever feel like going back to russia? do you go back to russia? >> we do. i used to try to go back once a year. i have grandparents that still live there.
one great grandma, she is the 3 and my mom was actually there for ten days. she got back yesterday. she got there to visit. now because i'm in intensive training i can't quite hop on a plane and cross the country. the last time i was there was three years ago. >> and how does your grandmother feel about you representing america? >> i think they're okay with it. you know, they travel back and forth quite a bit, too. and, you know, hopefully they'll move over here eventually. but, you know, they've just been so supportive of it all, and with my parents, and i think that they are very nervous when my mom just -- she's the only child and i'm the only child, so when my mom left russia and her parents, she lived with her parents until she got married. and i think that they were very nervous moving over to a different country. >> it's an incredible thing for your mom to have done and your dad. and yet they must now be so proud of you to have come to this country with nothing. not even the ability to speak the language. and to have this little tiny shrimp with them who goes on to win an olympic gold medal for
their adopted country, an amazing thing. >> thank you. >> how did they feel when you won the gold? >> well, my mom wasn't there. she was out walking the streets of beijing. she gets too nervous watching. so she actually went to like some chinese temple. you know, i tried to call her as soon as i knew that i won. but she turned her phone on silent so nobody would break the news to her. so she was ignoring my calls. i finally texted her. and i said, hi, mom. i won, period. i love you. that's how she found out. she rushed back over to the arena to try and make it in time for the medal ceremonies. and, you know, i've never really seen my dad cry, and the one time i saw him have tears in his eyes was when i was getting my gold medal and the flag was coming up and the national anthem. and i think there was just so many years of not just hard work but different obstacles and injuries and things that i had to overcome in being over the hill at just 18 years old. >> yeah, i mean you were ancient. >> what am i going to be now? like a dinosaur. yeah. so i think that so many
different thoughts and feelings were going through both of our minds. but to know that it finally worked. you know, it finally -- >> who said the culmination of your father's dream in many ways. i mean, america gets quite a bad wrap at the moment from a lot of people at the moment with all the economic strife. but america's been very good to you and your family. >> it definitely has. i think it's given us so many amazing opportunities. and to have now not just one but three gist nast ticks schools in the dallas area and, you know, have over 3,000 kids enrolled. and every day you walk into that gym and, you know, i'm thankful for these opportunities that this country has given us. and to be able to represent them is -- it's a huge honor to me to be able to wear the american flag on my leotard. >> do you still have dual citizenship? or do you just -- >> i have dual citizenship. >> you do, so do you consider yourself really american or both? >> you know, it's hard to answer that question. i think -- i definitely consider myself american just because i grew up here. i've -- more likely this was my first language.
you know, i can speak fluent in russian. >> speak to me in russian. come on. >> what do you want me to say? >> i wouldn't understand you anyways. it doesn't make any difference. the only russian i know is -- [ speaking in foreign language ] which i think means i love you. >> that was close. >> it's a bit awkward. it's all i know in russian. [ speaking in foreign language ] that means i love you. >> can you get that on camera? my wife won't be happy. tell me a little bit. talk in sort of olympic speak. >> okay. [ speaking russian ] >> it's a very sexy language, isn't it? don't you think? >> yeah. >> i'm not knocking the way dallas people speak. but it really is, i think. >> you know, it's funny because now every time i go back to russia they say i have like an american accent speaking russian. i'm like, i didn't even know that was possible, but thanks. but, you know, it was funny growing up my parents had a little bit more of an accent. and, i mean, they started speaking the language and learning english because we
watched like "barney" and "sesame street" together. that's how they learned english so any time we see that, it's so funny. i started going to preschool and kindergarten. and i was bringing home my books and my homework and they were looking over my shoulder trying to learn it with me. to see how far we've come in a matter of years, it's very inspiring to me. obviously, they're my parents and i look up to them. but i look up to them for more reasons than just them being my parents. it takes a lot to just get on a plane and go somewhere. >> incredible courage. i think to do that. >> a lot of courage. and i think that, you know, courage was one of the main things that got me to where i am today because i could have given up a few times when i had an injury. and, you know, many people said i wouldn't make the olympic team because i was too old and too injured and this and that. but to have that courage to step up to it and to keep going after your dreams. >> let's take a little break. when we come back i want to talk to you about the fact you shouldn't really be here. you said you weren't going to be
compete ing. then you became the comeback kid at the grand old age of -- how old are you? >> 22. >> really ridiculous decision. you're finished. you should be in some sort of knackers yard for ex-gymnasts. after the break we'll discuss this. signup for 5% cashback at restaurants through june. it pays to discover. do you really think brushing is enough to keep it clean? while brushing misses germs in 75% of your mouth, listerine® cleans virtually your entire mouth.
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i'm back with the pride of america. a look at the country's olympic athletes as they prepare for london. before the break, i was talking to nastia liukin, a gold medal winning gymnast. she's a remarkable young woman who is certain to collect even more medals this summer. here's more with my interview with nastia. nastia, you shouldn't really be here. as i was saying because you were not going to compete in the london olympics. what changed your mind? >> you know, there's something about the sport of gymnastics and the olympic games. i think so many people can explain to you what an olympic games is like. but until you're actually there and participating, there's no greater feeling than representing your country and, you know, just competing on the biggest stage in the world. and i think something like the olympic games, there's so many countries involved that it doesn't matter what's going on in your country, everybody kind of forgets about it for those two weeks. and everybody is there for that one dream. is to win a medal for their
country, and i think that is so incredible to be able to walk around the olympic village and see people in their jackets and have their countries on the back and just know that everyone's there for that one passion. and i just couldn't get away from it. i don't know. gymnastics is something i have such a huge passion for. and i knew that at the end of august 2012, you know, looking back, i didn't want to have any regrets. and i didn't want to think what if? i think those two words scared me to death. i didn't want to think what if i would have tried. what if i would have given it my all for these last two months. could i have made another olympic team? could i have won another gold medal? could i have helped team usa win a gold medal? >> do you think you can win gold? >> i think so. you know, i honestly don't think i'd be doing it if i didn't think that way. and i think that's the way that i've been raised. my dad is such a perfectionist. and it's the same way that i've kind of lived my life inside and outside of gymnastics, even in school. like nothing was acceptable
like all as in school. i think that's the way that i was just raised. i really believe in this. i believe i can do this. the odds may not be in my favor. but, you know, i definitely want to prove to everyone that you still can compete when you're 22 years old. >> if you win gold at this olympics and achieve, really, i guess the last remaining great ambition for you, what then? i mean would you consider completely retiring? would you like to continue in some other form in gymnastics? >> you know, i was thinking i was going to completely retire until about a few weeks ago when my dad, who coaches me still, asked, you know, maybe you should compete at another world championship after, do another year. and that thought never ever entered my mind until he said that but, you know, i don't really know. i don't know what these next few months will bring me. i don't know what the olympics will bring me. but i do want to go to school. i'm hoping to move to new york and go to nyu and start in january. i've put that on hold for about five years now. so education has always been very important to my family and
so no matter what your accomplishments are in the sport of gymnastics, i believe that that will get you pretty far with an education will get you far. so i don't know if gist nast ticks competitively will be in my future. i definitely know that i'll, you know, be involved in the sport for the rest of my life. hopefully maybe creating a show or a tour or maybe a summer camp. or i'm not sure i would coach. i'll leave that to my dad. i don't have the patience for that. >> he's obviously pretty good, your dad. >> he is. apparently so. i mean. >> living proof. >> yeah, living proof. his own daughter. >> what do you think it takes to be a champion? to be an olympic champion? >> i think -- obviously it takes a lot of hard work but a lot of discipline. a lot of courage. motivation, and it's very hard to find that sometimes, especially on those days that you don't want to get out of bed or if it's raining outside and you just want to stay under your covers. but i never took a single holiday off. i was the only one in the gym with my dad on christmas day,
on christmas eve, new year's eve. >> you trained christmas day? >> yeah. >> do you ever feel like you missed out on a youth, although you've achieved great success, when you see your friends or people you grow up with or whatever all going out, gallivanting having a good time, there must be moments where you go, i wish i could go and get ripped tonight. maybe there are not. maybe that's what makes you a champion. >> i never felt those moments are worth it to me. i feel like when you're standing there getting a gold medal, nothing can compare to that moment. not a single night of going out. not a single night of hanging out with your friends. i think the moments like that, and the people that will be in your life for the rest of your life are going to understand, and they will be there for the rest of your life. it's finding those people and the friends and obviously your family will be there. but it's those friends that they support you and that they know you, you know, have to be in bed at 9:30 or 10:00 every night and you can't go out on the weekends. but i think it definitely takes
sacrifices. and if you do want to be the greatest in what you do, you have to sacrifice your personal life and your outside sport life. but i think it's totally worth it. >> who are your great role models? >> you know, it sounds -- >> in any sport. it doesn't have to be gymnastics. >> besides my parents, because i just feel like not just in the sport, but what they did and they are my parents. looking at it from the side too and the things they've done and walking into that gym every single morning at 7:30 and realizing when it's dark and just walking in and knowing that they created this with their own hands and they moved to this country with absolutely nothing and created this. >> what do you say to young americans who've maybe gone astray for whatever reason, bad parenting, bad education, they live in a rough area, whatever it may be. and they're looking to the olympics just casually on television. what can you say to them to try and get them to take a different path? >> i think it's really important to understand that you can
achieve anything that you set your mind to. and as long as you do have something in your mind such as a goal or a dream, then you can achieve it. you know, don't ever be afraid to be told that you can't do something. i think that i learned that at a very young age. so many people told me i wouldn't be strong enough or i would be too tall or i'd be too old and this and that. i think that as long as you can sit down and tell yourself that this is what i'm going to achieve and this is what my goal is, no matter what it takes. but you have to be willing to do whatever it takes. and you have to work hard every single day. and if it is 365 days a year for five years or whatever those circumstances are, you have to be able to do that. and not be afraid. because i think being scared is one of those things that can really go from one side to the other side. you have to be fearless in whatever it is you do and not just flipping on a four-inch wide beam, but it's also taking chances in your life and making sure that you live your life without any regrets. >> it's been a real pleasure.
>> thank you so much. >> best of luck in london. my hometown. i think you're going to have a good -- i've got a feeling. you've got that icy look about you when you talk about winning. i think that's what it takes. >> i hope so fingers crossed. next, a young man from the bronx who was born to be an olympian. the incredible story of jonna roscoe coming up next. [ male announcer ] it's back again at red lobster, but not for long! your very own four course seafood feast for just $14.99. start your feast with a soup, like our hearty new england clam chowder. next, enjoy a salad with unlimited cheddar bay biscuits. then get your choice of one of 7 entrees. like new coconut and pineapple shrimp shrimp and scallops alfredo or new honey bbq shrimp. then finish with something sweet. your complete four course seafood feast just $14.99.
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of all the incredible stories of america's olympic hopefuls, one that stands out from so many is that of john orozco. his childhood wasn't easy. his family struggling to make ends meet in the bronx. with his parent's determination and his own drive, john is now on the gymnastics team. and one step closer to the gold. he's an extraordinary young man, as i found out. >> so, john, you have been described as a 5'4" power ball. wow. >> wow. that's nice. >> is that true? >> i guess, yes. >> is that how you see yourself? >> i see myself as a normal
19-year-old kid. >> who just happens to be a gold medal contending power ball. >> i guess. >> you say normal. this is what one of your coaches at the world cup gymnastics said about you. jason hebert. i've never seen in athlete with so much raw talent. john is like the michael jordan and lebron james of gymnastics. he's that good. >> well, i never thought anybody would compare me to those two great athletes and the sport that they represent. you know, i'm just trying to follow my dream and do what i love to do. >> let's go back to the bronx. it's where you're from in new york. not the best place in the world to grow up. everyone would agree with that. and yet it's produced many outstanding people. tell me about your early life in the bronx. what was it like? >> growing up in the bronx, especially as a gymnast, not easy. i got teased a lot as a kid. you know, a lot of backhanded jokes.
a lot of negativity that was thrown at me when i was a kid. >> what did being a gymnast mean in the bronx? what did they tease you about? what were they saying to you? >> they would say things like, wow, a gymnast? what are you, gay? or, oh, that's nice. you go around flipping like a cheerleader? like what is that going to do? >> it wasn't masculine enough for them. >> no. definitely not the masculine thing to do. >> and yet the irony of what you do is it's one of the toughest disciplines in terms of physical strength. >> it is one of the toughest sports in the world. yeah. and it's just that they didn't understand what it took to be a gymnast, to be a world class gymnast. they didn't understand. and i knew that. that's why i wouldn't get mad. i would just simply say, okay, i can throw a baseball. i can shoot a basketball. i can kick a soccer ball. let's see your back handspring. and then their eyes would be like, what?
and i said now you understand. because it's just that they can't relate because it's not something that everyone can do. can just go in the gym and do double flip, double twist and stick. >> i mean i watch it and i can't imagine why anybody would want to do it. the level of strength, the danger, all of it. i'm like, you guys are crazy. >> it is a lot. >> why gymnastics? was there something you saw on television? was there somebody out there that you idolized? why gymnastics? >> i love gymnastics -- i took to gymnastics because it's one of the most challenging sports in the world. and that's what i love bit. it's such a great challenge. and i remember watching the 2000 olympic games and seeing the gymnastics team compete and remembering, i want to do that one day, you know? i remember sitting with my family and thinking, wow, this is the greatest thing i've ever seen, you know. and then my dad got me into it
when i was 8 years old. he works for the department of sanitation. so he came in. he was on the job one day in the city. he picks up a flier for a free gymnastics trials in the nearby gym, jgymnasium in the city. so he brought it home. and i was in tae kwon do competing and stuffer. so he brought it home. he discussed it with my mother over dinner. the next day he brought me into the gym. i remember before i even got into the gym, i can hear the noises, like the bars squeaking and the people landing on their feet on the mats and the just loud slamming noises. i got so excited walking in. and -- >> you just knew. >> i just knew. i just felt it. i knew it was -- it was happening. and my dad spoke to the owner. and i was 8 years old, the gym class was supposed to be for 9-year-olds and up. and, he said, i'm sorry. we can't have your son try out. he's not old enough. and he said, come on, please.
he loves doing flips. everywhere i go he's trying to do hand stands. he said, just give him a chance. so he gave me that chance. and i'm so grateful that he did. because that's the moment i knew i loved this sport. >> your parents were very dedicated to you. because your mom used to drive you often for a three-hour commute from the bronx, one of the rough eest parts of new york to westchester, the posh end. which is two completely different worlds. >> yeah, it is. >> how did you feel? as you were in the transit, sometimes like i say, for three hours. you're going from one place to somewhere completely different. >> yeah. i'm glad i got the training in westchester. and going back to the bronx, the bronx is just -- it's my home. it's where i live. i feel comfortable in. >> what are the good things about the bronx? i mean it gets a bad wrap. >> it does get a bad wrap. >> what are the good parts of you that you think come from being a bronx guy.
>> well, look at my parents. they raised me to be the man i am now. and i mean with people like that in the bronx, it can't be that bad, right? >> yeah. >> and it's not so bad. my neighborhood is by the bronx river, by the water. i can see manhattan across the street -- across the river actually, and i mean it's only as bad as you make it out to be. and going from there to westchester is a lot different. the people are different, but i awe them all as people. it's all the same to me. i treat everyone with respect. i treat everyone the same. >> did you get into fights as a kid in the bronx? did everybody have to fight if you're a young man growing up in the bronx? >> no, no, no. it's not like a boxing match every time you walk out your house. but we did -- it was a sad day. we were actually coming from my brother's confirmation at church on sunday. and my brother, one of my older brothers, his name is emanuel. and we got into a little spiff going home.
and it just spiraled out of control so quickly, i don't even really remember it. but we were going home one day. that day, and we -- it started out as an argument, and then it got into a physical altercation. and all of a sudden, not even exaggerating, there were 30 guys, 20 guys that showed up and started attacking all of us. there were only four of us. and i was 10 years old at the time and my brother was 12. 20 and 27 and i mean 30 versus 4. and the cops were called by pedestrians. they had saw sightings of a gun throughout the whole rumble, knives. >> knives, as well? >> yeah. my brother was attacked pretty badly, and he had to spend a few days in the hospital. >> he was stabbed? >> no. thank god.
but it's -- >> what did it teach you? the incident? >> that life is unpredictable. and you can't -- you can't hold on to that. i let it go in the past. and i just -- i don't think about it now. because we're stronger for it now that we went through it, but it's not something i keep with me. because if i did, it would destroy me. >> you've got out of the bronx now. you know, you live elsewhere. you go back. your family is still there. your parents have both suffered from ill health and stuff. do you see in the future a life for them out of the bronx? >> absolutely. the whole reason that i got so serious about gymnastics was to make a better life for myself and make a better life for my family. and that's what i set out to do since i made this commitment to myself to make the olympic team and reach my goals and dreams. and one day i'm going to do it. it's a lot of pressure. but i'll take it on. >> they tell a very moving story of when you got your first paycheck and came back.
and you gave it all to your parents. >> yeah. >> and said, that's to help pay off the mortgage. they both found that a profoundly moving moment in their lives. and a kind of vindication of all the effort they've made for you. that they've produced this kid who would do that. >> just ever since i was little, the number one priority for me was helping out my family any way i can because i knew we weren't doing good financially. and i remember i was -- i started bagging at the grocery store when i was 13 years old and getting like just little chump change, you know. bringing it home and saying, look, i got this money. it's like 3 bucks in total. and then i actually started working at 14 at my gym. and i brought home that first paycheck, and i said, here, mom, put this towards the mortgage and everything. because i don't care what i was doing or what was happening around me, all i cared about was my family and making sure that
everything was okay. and that's the reason i do gymnastics now. to make a better life for them. and i want to make sure that no one in my family has to ever worry about things like that again. i don't want anymore financial worries. i don't want any kind of burdens to be restricting us in that way, and that's why -- that's what keeps me motivated in jim mastics. >> john, just hold that thought, and we'll come back after the break. a party? [ music plays, record skips ] hi, i'm new ensure clear. clear, huh? my nutritional standards are high. i'm not juice or fancy water, i'm different. i've got nine grams of protein. twist my lid. that's three times more than me! twenty-one vitamins and minerals and zero fat! hmmm. you'll bring a lot to the party. [ all ] yay! [ female announcer ] new ensure clear. nine grams protein. zero fat. twenty-one vitamins and minerals. in blueberry/pomegranate and peach. refreshing nutrition in charge!
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back now with pride of america. a special on the olympic athletes who will compete in london. before the break i spoke with john orozco. gymnastics in a class all by himself. here's more of that interview. what does it take to be as good as you are at what you do? >> i would say it takes a lot of willpower and a lot of sacrifice and a lot of self motivation. because you're not going to walk in every day and feel like it's a great day and you want to get
all this stuff done and feeling all jolly, jolly, you know. >> because, what are you, 19? >> 19. >> most kids your age, i've got an older son who's 19. he likes going out clubbing in london, having fun, sinking a few beers, chatting up a few women. >> uh-huh. >> this is not a world you're allowed to do, right? >> it's not. but the way i see it, i'm chasing my dreams right now and i'm doing what i love to do. and there will be time for that after i achieve my goals and dreams. so for right now, i'm focusing on what i need to do so that in the future i can enjoy all those things. >> if you perform at your absolute best, what can you achieve in london? >> i think if i do my absolute best, i think i might have a chance of being on the medal stand, top three and all around. and that's my goal, and also as well as my individual goal, it's the same as a team goal. we want to get -- we want to get up there. the americans.
top three, at least, on the podium stand. >> if you win a gold, how is that going to make you feel? a boy from the bronx winning an olympic gold medal, standing on that podium, the american national anthem playing? >> that would be a dream come true. that would mean that everything i suffered through has finally been worth it, and i think that would be the moment that my life would change. >> it would be an emotional moment for you? >> yeah. definitely an emotional moment for me. >> and your parents. >> and my family, yeah. that would mean my life has changed and that would mean my family's life would change right in just that moment. >> now you're a good-looking young man. i'm told that you're one of the more popular characters in the olympic team with the ladies. >> really? i am? >> that's what i'm hearing. how are you going to deal with the attention that comes your way when you compete in the olympics and possibly win a gold medal? are you ready for screaming women chasing you down the street? >> oh, yeah.
my philosophy for women, i'm not going to go out there and try to find, you know, the love of my life. i think if it's meant to happen, it will happen, and she'll find me, or i'll find her. but i'm not looking for her. you know? but the whole -- all the media and all the attention, i think it's going to be -- it's going to be fun, you know. i can't let it stress me out. >> and if you win the gold, can you imagine all those guys who teased you back in the bronx are going to be thinking? will their pictures of their faces shoot up in your face as you stand there? >> no, no, no. no, never -- >> just a tiny little bit of i told you? >> no. >> come on. it will be a little bit. >> i don't think so. i'm not a vengeful person. >> i don't mean vengeful, but more like vindication. >> maybe a little bit. it will just be more about, now you understand. now you understand, you know.
not so much, i told you so. you know? but i think -- i think people realize now, everyone that's told me that i couldn't do what i was trying to do or tried to tease me about what i loved and try to take what i love and crush my spirits with it, i think they'll all realize now, you know. this isn't -- this wasn't ever a joke. this was never something to be teased about. >> the final question. what does being an american mean to you? >> being an american? >> yeah. >> it means that i get to enjoy life in the best country in the world, as i see it. and going -- on my way to the olympics and being able to wear that usa on my back proudly and represent my whole country, not just myself.
my whole country, my family, everyone. it's going to be a great honor. and i can't wait. >> john, all the best. >> thank you. >> see you in london. next, young world champion ali riseman from going to the prom, she's now heading to london. i'll talk to this olympic hopeful, coming up. [ female announcer ] did you know the average person smiles
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london games are just around the corner. fast approaching and america's greatest athletes can't wait. i've been talking to these superstars tonight. one of them is gymnast ali riser. he's a young gun who is going to perform this summer. here's my interview. how are you? >> i'm very good. how are you? >> you're 17 years old, but in gymnastics terms, you're quite old? right? >> yeah, i'm definitely i guess considered old for gymnastics, but you have to be 16 to go to the olympics. i'm going to be 18 soon. i guess two years over what is considered young. >> your first olympics. how are you feeling? >> i'm feeling very confident. the olympic trials are at the end of june. i'm very excited and a little bit anxious. i can't wait.
i've been working so hard. so i'm so excited. >> you have the hardest handshake of any 17-year-old, male or female i have ever experienced. >> well, i do a lot of conditioning. my coaches always have us do a lot of strength, so we're really powerful. but i've never gotten that compliment before. >> i mean, you are just ridiculously strong, but you have to be, i guess. right? some of these disciplines you do are incredibly tough physically. >> yeah, definitely. i mean, i guess you need a lot of hand strength for bars, too, so maybe that's why i'm used to just grabbing onto the bar really tight. so i'm kind of just used to that. but for other events like beam and vault and floor, you need a lot of strength for that as well. >> the amount of training you do for this kind of thing must be absurd. it's just relentless, isn't it? >> yeah, definitely. i do about seven, seven and a half hours a day so it's a ton of training and a lot of hard work, but it's definitely paying off and i still love it.
so i'm just enjoying what i've been doing. >> being all your mates are down, i don't know where they go, nightclub, having fun, listening to music, going out, eating bad food, having doughnuts. don't you miss any of that? >> i mean, i used to miss it. i had to sacrifice my senior year, but i'm still going to go to prom and graduation but i'm finishing the year online, but it was definitely hard, but to be able to say i'm an olympic hopeful and to be able to travel and be on the show with you and do so many cool experiences, i wouldn't trade it for anything. and it's just such an honor to compete for the united states. >> you don't feel like you're missing out? >> no, i don't. >> and you get to do school online. >> school. online. it's a lot easier and a lot stressful because i can choose when i do it and in between my workouts i can do my homework and also rest. >> is winning an olympic gold for you the absolute number one dream? >> yeah, definitely. winning the olympic gold, it just gives me chills thinking about it, and i've been dreaming about that ever since i was a little girl so to be able to
accomplish that is just so surreal. and every day when i'm in the gym, that's all i think about. >> is it, literally, for all seven hours a day. you're thinking of that gold medal, the podium, the american anthem? >> yeah, definitely, especially in the car ride to and from gym i find myself spacing out a lot, just visualize iing what the olympics would be and having such great role models. when i go to texas, i see the other girls, and it's so inspiring to see what they have accomplished and i definitely want to be there someday, too. >> now, any boys on the horizon. are you allowed to have boyfriends? >> i mean, right now i don't have a boyfriend, but maybe after the summer i would want a boyfriend. >> are they banned before the olympics? >> yeah, i mean, i still talk to boys, but i don't have a boyfriend. i'm going to pm with one of my guy friends, jamie. >> is he a boyfriend? >> he's not my boyfriend, but he's a really nice guy and my good friend.
>> so you get to prom and you will graduate. that's important to you, right? >> it's really important to me. it's really great that i'm able to have such a great gymnastics career and also be able to experience the regular school life, as well. >> your mum's here with you who looks almost exactly like you do only with reddish hair. how important is your mom to you? i know that you started all of this when you went to a mummy and me class when you were just 3 years old, right? >> my mom is so important to me. she's so supportive. she's like my best friend. we have so much fun together, and i love to be able to travel with her because we get to just have a great time together, and she always makes me laugh, so without her support, i wouldn't haven't been able to do anything. >> are you a good loser? >> i do not like to lose at all, but it motivates me, and i believe everything happens for a reason, so if i don't do well or i get second or third place, it just motivates me to do better for next time. >> what does it mean to you to be an american in the olympics? >> it means everything to me just to be able to represent the united states. it's so amazing and so crazy and just to be able to be on that
team and just to be able to have the usa on my back means everything to me. >> well, aly, best of luck. >> thank you. >> i think you're going to win gold. i got a funny feeling about you. you seem very determined to me. >> thank you. >> good luck. >> thank you. >> next, a preview of my surprising interview with olympic legend michael phelps. [ woman ] for the london olympic games, our town had a "brilliant" idea. support team usa and show our olympic spirit right in our own backyard. so we combined our citi thankyou points to make it happen. tom chipped in 10,000 points. karen kicked in 20,000. and by pooling more thankyou points from folks all over town, we were able to watch team usa... [ cheering ] in true london fashion.
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when i got back from iraq, i stood away from large crowds, malls, movies. >> i wouldn't leave the house. just didn't want to. >> staying inside. windows were blacked out. >> i was really numb. didn't feel like i had a purpose anymore. >> nightmares constantly, flashbacks. >> everything to me is still a combat zone. >> veterans with invisible wounds, we can't see a wheelchair, a prosthetic leg. they appear like you and i, but their suffering goes so deep. it touches the soul. >> c.j., what are you doing, bud? >> i learned how to train dogs while i served in the army. i knew that a dog can add a lot in your life. i realized this is what i was supposed to do. my name is mary cortani. i watch veterans with service dogs, train them as a team so that they can navigate life together. >> stand. >> so when a veteran trains their own service dog, they have a mission and a purpose again. >> talk to them and tell them they did good. dogs come from shelters, rescue
groups. they are taught to create a spatial barrier and can alert them when they start to get anxious. you okay? you getting overwhelmed? focus on maggie. the dog is capable of keeping them grounded. you're focusing on him, and he's focusing on everything around you. you start to see them get their confidence back. communicate differently. they venture out, and they are beginning to participate in life again. being able to help them find that joy back in their life, it's priceless.
michael phelps is on his way into the history books. he's won 16 olympic medals, but he isn't done yet. he wants to add more to his collection in london. i sat down with phelps for a remarkably candid interview. what he says to me will surprise you as it surprised me. here's a little sneak preview. you warned me you've been answering questions all day, and if i just repeat the same old nonsense you've been asked all day, then you'll give me less time. >> i'll be just like a tape recorder though. >> i'll take you at your word though, so i'm going to ask you a question that i've asked all of my guests.
how many times have you been properly in love? >> that's all for us tonight. i'll see you back on monday when i talk to jesse ventura who can win an olymp gold medal just for arguing. camera three. >> when will it end? the rain that won't let up, causing a flooding state of emergency. >> down on camera two. >> tommy chung, surprise revelation on this show. >> my announcement is that i was diagnosed with prostate cancer. >> no surprise though. his treatment choice, pot. >> and another pot confession. >> i used to smoke marijuana. >> comedian louie anderson. >> listen, i don't need another reason to be hungry. >> 30 seconds. >> preacher trouble. >> exaggeration and sensationalism. >> megachurch pastor creflo dollar back in the pulpit and out of jail and denying he choked his teenage ug