Gabby Douglas makes a comeback in competitive gymnastics and secures a spot at the U.S. Championships

Gabby Douglas last competed in gymnastics eight years ago at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where her team secured the gold medal.

On Saturday, the American Classic in Katy, Texas witnessed the triumphant return of the three-time gold medalist. With her stellar performance, she not only qualified for the U.S. Championships but also paved her way to compete at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris this summer.

Douglas secured a 10th place finish in the all-around competition, showcasing her skill on both the vault and the balance beam. As a result, she earned the opportunity to compete in these two events at the upcoming U.S. Championships. However, in order to compete in all four events at the nationals, scheduled to take place from May 30 to June 2 in Fort Worth, Texas, Douglas will need to file a petition.

Jade Carey, who won the Olympic gold medal in the floor exercise, emerged victorious in the all-around competition.

Douglas’ chances of making the Paris team are not directly influenced by the American Classic. However, her performance on Saturday played a significant role in her training progress during her comeback. It served as an essential stepping stone and provided a glimpse into her current training status.

Douglas had a rough start to the day during the floor exercise. She made a mistake on her first pass, putting her hands down and going out of bounds. As a result, she received a score of 11.450.

Douglas’ comeback is undeniably legitimate, especially when you witness her performance on the vault. During the second rotation, Douglas executed a remarkable double-twisting Yurchenko, earning an impressive score of 14.000. This score would be eagerly welcomed by the U.S. women’s team in the final competition in Paris.

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Douglas still has a lot of work to do on the uneven bars, which happens to be her signature event. Although her release moves, which earned her the nickname “The Flying Squirrel” in 2012, are still as impressive as ever, Douglas had a couple of mishaps during her routine, resulting in a score of 11.850.

In her fourth and final rotation, Douglas showcased her exceptional skills on the balance beam, delivering a remarkable performance. With a score of 13.350, she secured her spot at the U.S. Championships, a testament to her dedication and talent. It is worth noting that at 28 years old, Douglas was the oldest athlete competing on the floor.

Douglas had originally planned to make a comeback in competitive gymnastics at the Winter Cup in February. However, she had to withdraw from the competition at the last minute because she tested positive for Covid.

In an Instagram post, Douglas expressed her disappointment in testing positive for covid, stating, “I was so excited to get back out on the competition floor, but unfortunately, I just tested positive for covid… I’m crushed but I’ll see you guys soon!”

During an interview on “Hallie Jackson NOW,” she made her intention to return to the Olympics known.

In 2012, Douglas achieved a groundbreaking feat in London by becoming the first Black gymnast to secure the Olympic all-around gold medal. Continuing her success, she contributed to the U.S. women’s team’s back-to-back triumphs in the team event at the 2016 Olympics, adding another Olympic gold medal to her collection.

Douglas chose not to participate in the recent Olympics in Tokyo, which was seen by many in the gymnastics community as a sign that she was effectively retiring from the sport.

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Reigning Olympic all-around gold medalist Suni Lee is making her comeback bid for the Olympics. On Saturday, she showcased her skills on the balance beam and the vault, marking the first time she and Douglas have competed against each other at the senior level.

Lee has been dealing with kidney problems since early last year, which forced her to end her collegiate career and prematurely conclude her 2023 season. Although she participated in the 2023 U.S. Championships, she decided to withdraw from the World Championships team.

Saturday’s performance was a chance for redemption for the breakout star of the Tokyo Olympics. Lee’s first meet of the season, the Winter Cup, had been disappointing. She had fallen twice on the uneven bars and once on the balance beam.

The routines she demonstrated on Saturday were noticeably cleaner, although they may not have showcased the full extent of her capability in terms of difficulty.

During the initial rotation, Lee showcased her skills on the balance beam, executing a flawless routine that included a straightforward layout dismount. Her conservative approach proved to be fruitful as she secured a remarkable score of 14.300, emerging victorious in the event.

Lee showcased her skills on the vault, impressing the judges with a full-twisting Yurchenko and earning a score of 13.250. Her outstanding performance in this event, combined with her previous success on the uneven bars, secured her a spot in the U.S. Championships. However, similar to Douglas, Lee will need to petition for the opportunity to compete in the all-around.

Mark your calendars for May 17 and 18 as the Core Hydration Classic makes its way to Hartford, Connecticut. This exciting event is a crucial step on the journey to qualifying for Paris.

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If Douglas makes it onto the U.S. Olympic team, she will be following in the footsteps of Dominique Dawes as the first American woman to achieve this feat three times. Simone Biles, who was Douglas’ teammate in Rio, is also aiming to secure her place on the Olympic team for the third time.

The U.S. gymnasts who will be representing the country in Paris will be chosen during the Olympic trials this summer. These trials are scheduled to take place at the end of June in Minneapolis. The participants in the Olympic trials will be decided four weeks prior during the U.S. Championships in Fort Worth.

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