America’s golden girl, Olympic gymnast Gabrielle ‘Gabby’ Douglas told NBC’s Today Show and PopSugar that she is ready to get back in the gym and start training in the near future.
After becoming the first African-American to win an individual all-around gold medal and the first American gymnast to win gold in both the all-around and team competitions at the Olympics, Gabby has spent the last nine months at awards shows, making appearances, and writing two books. Douglas has been named ‘Female Athlete of the Year’ by the AP and most recently made Forbes list of ‘Most Influential Athletes of 2013.’
A comeback may be Gabby’s most challenging task yet. Taking months off from elite gymnastics is not like spending months away from your bicycle. You can easily hop back on your bike and remember how to ride. For an elite gymnast, they’ll spend much of the first year regaining strength, flexibility, as well as spatial and muscle awareness (most the time after a growth spurt). Repetitions or ‘numbers’ in training give elite gymnasts the confidence, endurance, and strength needed to compete at a high level. Age and injury are other factors – the oldest gymnast of the 2012 Olympic gold medal winning women’s gymnastics team was 18 at the time. Gymnastics is a sport made for pixies and those whose bodies can withhold the pounding from landings and number of hours expected in the gym. Many Olympic Champions have attempted a comeback and few have succeeded. For example, 5 of the 6 female gymnasts who competed at the 2008 Olympics and won silver as a team attempted comebacks leading up to the 2012 Olympic Games. Not one of them made the 2012 Olympic squad one quad later.
If any Olympic All-Around champion gymnast can pull off a comeback, it’s Gabby. She’s still fit, has proved that she can overcome adversity, and appears to have the motivation necessary to move forward. Many of her Fierce Five teammates are also back at training. Of the four girls who took ‘substantial’ time off following the Games (Kyla Ross returned to training soon after the Olympics), Douglas is my favorite for winning another gold in International competition.
The US National Championships will be held in Hartford, CT this year. 2013 US Gymnastics Championships tickets are available now.