BOSTON, MA — The 18-year-old star who captured the world’s attention and brought home the gold during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London returned to Boston with several members of her team on Sunday afternoon as part of the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions.
Needham-native Aly Raisman, who, along with Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Jordyn Wieber and Kyla Ross made up the group nicknamed the "Fierce Five", won the second-ever gold medal for the United States in the Women's Team Gymnastics competition, and today four of the women (Douglas, Maroney, Raisman and Wieber) performed in a packed TD Garden.
In a scene reminiscent of some of the Boston Bruins own hometown Stanley Cup parades in 2011, Raisman said she was overwhelmed by the show of support from her hometown when she returned to Massachusetts this past summer, and noted that Kellogg's Boston event was the only show of their tour to completely sell out.
"I did not expect to get this much love and support from everyone," said Raisman of the well wishes and congratulations she's received since returning to New England from England. "It means so much to me."
Before Sunday's show, the decorated gymnasts were gifted personalized Bruins jerseys by B's General Manager Peter Chiarelli, and Raisman, a huge Boston sports fan, looked completely natural in her B's jersey, which provided a proper backdrop for the shining medals (two gold, one bronze) hanging around her neck.
"We match a little bit now," said Raisman, comparing her medals with her new Black & Gold jersey. "That’s really cool."
Beyond the personalized sweaters, Raisman said she was even more excited to see Chiarelli’s daughter Talia, who is also a gymnast, and a longtime friend.
"I’ve really missed her so much, and we still keep in touch," said Raisman. "I’m really excited that she’s here today."
Asked about her own Boston sports memories, Raisman said that she found the B's 2011 victory very motivational.
"It was really inspiring to watch them win the Stanley Cup," said Raisman. "That’s so amazing and so special.”
The two-time Olympic gold medalist was pumped to make her own contribution to the "City of Champions" and to return home for a hometown show with her medals in tow.
"I just love Boston," said Raisman. "I love how it’s such a huge sports town.
"It’s just really cool to be from here."
It was clear that the other members of Fierce Five were having a blast in Boston, too, as exhibited by the endless laughter throughout their time backstage at the TD Garden.
"When you put all of us together our personalities just shine because we’re all like sisters we’re so close," said Wieber to BostonBruins.com with a smile.
But the B’s staff couldn’t help but ask the athletes a question on the minds of many in the room: What does it feel like to be a teenager with Olympic gold?
"It’s definitely shocking," Wieber said. “It sometimes makes you sit back and realize that not many 16 or 17-year-old girls get these opportunities.
"So we just feel very thankful and fortunate to have the talents that we have and opportunities."
And for Raisman, it was simply thrilling to have an opportunity to show her talents in front of fans, friends and family in Massachusetts.
"Competing in London we were all really serious, so I’m excited to perform here tonight so people can see our personalities," she said.