Where Is Kim Zmeskal Now? The Olympic Gymnast & First All-Around World Champion Now Trains Champions Herself
In 1991, gymnast Kim Zmeskal became the very first American to win the All-Around World Championship title. It was a watershed moment in American gymnastics history, so it's only natural that fans often wonder, "Where is Kim Zmeskal now?" To say Zmeskal was a force to be reckoned with would be putting it lightly, as the upbeat athlete proved both her physical prowess and her irresistible charisma time and time again with show-stopping routines. The petite powerhouse was the U.S. National Champion in the senior division for three years in a row, from 1990 to 1992, before going on to compete at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics (with a stress fracture in her ankle, no less). Given her tenacity and passion for the sport, the career path Zmeskal ultimately chose makes perfect sense. (Bustle has reached out to Kim Zmeskal for comment.)
Before we talk about where she is now, though, let's dip back into her past for a moment. Zmeskal's course was dramatically altered just shy of the 1996 Olympic Games when she tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her right knee during a floor exercise. Still, she battled her way back to competition, returning to the U.S. National Championships in 1998. Then, on Jan. 5, 2000, disaster struck once more. At the time, Zmeskal was considered in contention for the 2000 Olympics Team and had her sights set high. She took off on a double-back somersault at the end of a floor exercise tumbling pass and, before landing, felt a muscle in her leg rip. "In the air, I knew it. I said, 'Please God, let me be strong enough to do this,'" she said shortly after during an interview at the Parkette Invitational 2000. And by this, she explained, she meant retire.
By all accounts, walking away from the sport that had defined her whole life was one of the most difficult things Zmeskal ever had to do. "It felt like somebody had died," she explained in the Parkette Invitational interview. "I love to perform, so it's hard to accept. But what people want from Kim Zmeskal is tumbling and power vaults, not nice dance moves. And I won't be able to do that." So just six days shy of her 24th birthday, Zmeskal began forging a new path for herself — and it started with the momentous occasion of holy matrimony.
The same year she suffered her third catastrophic injury and walked away from her gymnastics career as she knew it, Zmeskal walked down the aisle and married gymnastics coach Chris Burdette. Fun fact? Their wedding took place at the ranch of legendary gymastics coach Béla Károlyi, who had trained Zmeskal (along with Olympic heroine Mary Lou Retton) from a young age. She and Burdette eventually moved back to their home state of Texas — Zmeskal is a Houston native — and followed their long-held dream to open their own gym.
Called Texas Dreams Gymnastics, the gym has turned out many U.S. National Team athletes over the years. Zmeskal herself is widely regarded as one of the best elite gymnastics coaches in the United States. According to the website, Texas Dreams has also nurtured upcoming gymnasts into winners of international titles and World Championships, as well as competitors at Olympic Trials. Located in Coppell, Texas, the 36,00 sq. ft. facility trains this top caliber talent from 7am until 9pm. Zmeskal's husband, Burdette, is her co-owner at Texas Dreams.
The couple has three children: Robert Ryder, born in May 2005; Koda Christopher, born in July 2006; and a little girl named Riven, born February 2010. Aside from the predictably hectic lifestyle that comes with training some of the world's most talented gymnasts and raising three energetic kids, Zmeskal somehow also manages to find time to interact with her fans on social media. At the moment, you can find her tweeting her support for Team USA as they compete in the Rio Olympics.