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‘Commander In Chief’
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President and CEO of USA Gymnastics, Li Li Leung has a plan to get gymnastics back on the right track.

Leung was born August 20, 1973, and grew up in Ridgewood, New Jersey. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology at Michigan, where she was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten conference gymnast. She won Michigan’s Athletic Academic Achievement award in 1994 and 1995.

As a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Massachusetts, she got two master’s degrees: she received her MBA and master of science in sports management. She competed in many USA Gymnastics events, and was a member of a U.S. junior national team and represented the U.S. in the 1988 Junior Pan American Games.

The following excerpts are engaging, and you can read the entire interview in the 2019 June issue of International Gymnast.

IG: It helps that you were a gymnast. Do you have a strategic plan to revert the path that the sport is currently on?

LL: I am in the middle of a “listening and learning tour,” where I am speaking with individuals throughout the gymnastics community—former and current athletes, coaches, judges, club owners, administrators, media and other stakeholders, both supporters and critics.  I need to hear from them and understand their thoughts and perspectives before I can begin to write a strategic plan. To write one without a 360-degree perspective would be a mistake.

IG: You said, “For me, this is much more than a job: it is a personal calling, for which I stand ready to answer.” What did you mean by that?

LL: I felt compelled to give back to the sport that has shaped me and has been a part of my life for more than 35 years. It broke my heart to see what had happened to the gymnasts, and I want to help make the changes needed to rebuild USA Gymnastics into an organization of which we can all be proud. Going forward, I believe I can make a positive impact, and we will be more athlete-centric as an organization, with their safety and well-being at the forefront.

IG: Do you consider yourself outspoken in what you truly believe?

LL: Yes, but it took me a while to find my voice. I had a very positive coach who stressed emotional, mental and physical toughness rather than punishment. I still made decisions that probably weren’t the best decisions for me, such as competing through injuries. I wish I would have had the tools when I was a gymnast to be aware of what was right and wrong in those environments. To be able to say, ‘Okay, I need to stop now. If I go beyond this point, then I will be pushing myself beyond the point of injury and not be able to come back.’ Our athletes’ voices are important, and I want to help give them the tools to know what is the right thing to do and that they have a voice to speak up.

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