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Best You: Peszek's Olympics story is now an inspirational book for children

Hoosier Sam Peszek was injured just before she was to compete in the 2008 Games. How she coped with the setback are lessons she says she still carries today.
Credit: AP
UCLA's Samantha Peszek competes on the balance beam during the NCAA women's gymnastics championships Sunday, April 19, 2015, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

INDIANAPOLIS — She has a silver medal, and yet an "imperfect" Olympic experience.

Hoosier Sam Peszek was injured in warm-ups right before the 2008 competition in Beijing started.

How Peszek got to the Games and coped with the setback is now the subject of a children's animated book, encouraging young women to be a "best you."

"Little Girl, Big Dream: The Story of Olympian Samantha Peszek," was created by Vooks.

“It's recommended for kids eight and under,” she said. "The kids can read it out loud, so not only are they learning reading, but they're learning the spelling of certain words, and each of the stories has an inspirational life lesson attached to the story.”

And Peszek's story has highs and lows. She's 29 now, a broadcaster and business owner. But she was still a student at Cathedral High School when she represented Team USA at Beijing.

“Making it to the Olympic Games was such a phenomenal feat for myself,” Peszek said. "And then, when I was there five minutes before the competition, I hurt my ankle and was only allowed to do one event. And so, that life lesson of perseverance, that resilience, that when things don't go your way or there's a mess up or when something happens in your life, like how are you going to take a deep breath and still be your best self?”

“And yeah, I would have given anything to compete, all four events like I was supposed to, but I really had to switch gears and become that cheerleader for my teammates because that's what they needed at the time," she said. "So learning how to put my teammates' needs before my own, I think, was a really important lesson for me way back then and, you know, something that I still carry with me today.”

Sam went on to compete for UCLA and now runs the Beam Queen Boot Camp, attracting thousands of gymnasts from 38 states and 13 countries. She just launched The Club, a membership portal with monthly inspiration and challenges. Her goal is to help gymnasts everywhere navigate the world's toughest sport.

“When when you have an accident or when you fall down, you know, let's get back up. “Lets, you know, encourage and be kind to one another,” she said. “Whether you have kids or you know friends or younger siblings or anybody else, somebody is always looking up to you, and that gives you a sense of confidence and a sense of belonging, I think, and it really pushes you to wake up every single morning to be your best self for that person. So just, remember that we're all in this together."