Jaycie Phelps: Golden Grace and Strength at the Olympics

One of the many famous people from Indianapolis is also one of the youngest: Jaycie Phelps, born in Indy in 1979, became a household name in gymnastics by the age of sixteen. Making it to the Olympics is an achievement that lasts a lifetime. For Jaycie Phelps, this achievement came early, leaving her many years to see what other accomplishments lay in store for her.

Phelps was a member of the “Magnificent 7,” the United States Olympics team that took home the 1996 gold for women’s gymnastics. She also went out for the team in 2000, but eventually had to quit gymnastics due to chronic knee problems. The young athlete became known for her grace and strength.

Watch Jaycie Phelps on the vaults at the 2000 U.S. Classic in this video clip.


Jaycie Phelps took her gymnastics training at the Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy, located about 100 miles southeast of Indianapolis in Ohio. She also lived with her family in nearby Greenfield, Indiana for a time. In 1994, she was introduced to the international gymnastics scene, excelling in Germany for the 1994 Team World Championships. Within one year’s time, she took home the Third All-Around from the U.S. Nationals, and made the uneven bars in Japan at the 1995 World Gymnastics Championships.

It was during that event that the term “Phelps Vault” was coined. This was a nod to Phelp’s abilities from her peers and other  professionals in her field. The term was in the Code of Points and in wide use for another five years.

During the U.S. team’s performance at the 1996 Olympics, Phelps distinguished herself in all the events except the balance beam.

In this short video, acclaimed gymnast Jaycie Phelps explains why it all comes down to mental training.


Jaycie Phelps received the Sagamore of the Wabash award, a distinction bestowed by the Indiana governor to deserving Hoosiers. She was also honored in Cincinnati, where a street next to her high school was named for her, but her name still has a solid footing on the list of celebrity Indiana sports figures and among Indianapolis sports stars as well.

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