June 16, 2024

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The return of Olympic champion Gabby Douglas takes another important step into the US Classic

The return of Olympic champion Gabby Douglas takes another important step into the US Classic

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The return of Olympic gymnastics champion Gabby Douglas after an eight-year absence will take another important step Saturday at the U.S. Classic.

Douglas, who became the first Black woman to win the Olympic all-around title when she rose to gold at the 2012 London Olympics, is among a star-studded field that will compete at the XL Center in the last major tune-up before the US Championships. .

The meet also includes the 2016 Olympic champion Simone Biles And the 2020 Olympic champion Sunisa Lee As well as Olympic medalists Jade Curry and Jordan Chiles, among others.

Douglas, 28, competed for the first time in eight years in a tournament Classic American In Katy, Texas last month. And while there was some noticeable rust, Douglas also showed glimpses of why she was determined to make the five-woman US team that heads to Paris as the favorite in August.

Travel problems prevented Douglas from landing in Connecticut until early Friday morning. She estimated she got about two hours of sleep, but felt it was important to feel comfortable on the equipment in her first competition at a major venue since helping the U.S. team win the gold medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“I felt a lot of nostalgia,” Douglas said.

Nostalgia will likely give way to anxiety when you greet the judges on Saturday. Although she acknowledged that there might be a few butterflies at the US Classic, she also stressed that it was a “really fun moment.”

Something somewhat unexpected, too. Douglas went on a vacation that seemed more like retirement after leaving Rio.

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“It ended up being tough for me in 2016, so I didn’t want to end on that note,” Douglas said. “No matter the outcome, I wanted to make sure I would end up with love and joy instead of hating something I loved.”

She felt the pain of the comeback while watching the 2022 U.S. Championships and spent nearly two years training in the Dallas area to prepare for this moment.

She had a few weeks to regroup after the American Classic, which hinted at the talent she still has at an age when most American gymnasts have long since retired.

The double-twisting Yurchenko on vault had plenty of amplitude and on bars — her best event — she had the chops for a routine that would certainly be competitive at the elite level.

The challenge will be to find a way to put all the pieces together cohesively.

Douglas came off the bars twice and her floor routine lacked the crispness and endurance to keep up with what is needed for anyone hoping to make a serious bid for the Olympic team.

She’s not looking for perfection on Saturday, just getting better.

“I just want to go out there and do my best and not try too hard or try too much,” Douglas told reporters. “Just try to do my normal thing.”

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AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games