Like all gymnasts, I’ve done some ballet—it’s a part of our program. And people don’t realize the tremendous amount of time and work you have to put in to do the maneuvers they do. Ballerinas like Misty Copeland look so beautiful and perfect, but it takes thousands of hours of hard work to make it look that easy.
It was an honor to learn that a movie about me inspired a 7-year-old Misty to see the joy in movement. When I competed in the 1976 Olympics, no one thought that a 14-year-old from a place people couldn’t find on a map could contend. Misty proves that success is not about how you grow up or the color of your skin. Her story—of overcoming personal and physical challenges to become a soloist at the American Ballet Theatre—is the story of someone who followed her dreams and refused to give up. In that way, she is a model for all young girls.
It doesn’t matter where you’re from. If you have the passion like Misty, you can be the best at what you do.
Comaneci is a five-time Olympic gold medalist
Pick up the TIME 100 issue on newsstands, or click here to buy it online.
- Employers Take Note: Young Workers Are Seeking Jobs with a Higher Purpose
- Signs Are Pointing to a Slowdown in the Housing Market—At Last
- Welcome to the Era of Unapologetic Bad Taste
- As the Virus Evolves, COVID-19 Reinfections Are Going to Keep Happening
- A New York Mosque Becomes a Refuge for Afghan Teens Who Fled Without Their Families
- High Gas Prices are Oil Companies' Fault says Ro Khanna, and Democrats Should Go After Them
- Two Million Cases: COVID-19 May Finally Force North Korea to Open Up