Gabby Douglas has had a pretty great year: She won two gold medals including the all-around, was named Sportswoman of the Year and AP Athlete of the Year, wrote a book, met the President, appeared on a Wheaties Box, Vampire Diaries, and Oprah, threw out first pitches in New York and LA, and even led the Pledge at the Democratic National Convention. But now it’s back to work.
Gabby returned to her West Des Moines, Iowa gym Monday to discuss her return to the sport with coach Liang Chow and hop on the mat for her first practice since the London Games last summer.
“She is very excited to be coming back,” Chow told the AP. “She can’t wait any longer. She’s the kind of person who wants to be achieving.
“She wants to feel good about her improvement and her goal setting. That’s the attitude Gabby is about and now she can set out a goal and achieve it, through the sport.”
But the road back to competition form isn’t easy, even for a gold medalist. Gabby has been out of practice for about nine months, Chow said Gabby needs to get back in shape before they can discuss a realistic training plan and start building on her skills, adding new moves and creating new routines.
“I think 2014 is an excellent possibility for competition.”
And then maybe they’ll start thinking about Rio.
The 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the final competition to determine the Pyeongchang Olympic team, will be in San Jose, California, at the SAP Center, concluding Jan. 7.
It appears to be the earliest the U.S. Figure Skating Championships will end in an Olympic year in at least 50 years.
The competition will be broadcast live on NBC and streamed live on Icenetwork.com.
San Jose previously hosted the U.S. Championships in 1996 and 2012, but it has never hosted in an Olympic year.
Sochi Olympian Polina Edmunds is from San Jose and figures to receive a boost of crowd support. Edmunds, 18, begins classes at nearby Santa Clara University next month.
The January 2017 U.S. Championships will be in Kansas City. The international figure skating season starts next month, with Skate America kicking off the Grand Prix season in October.
Recent Nationals host cities in Olympic years were Boston in 2014 and Spokane, Washington, in 2010.
MORE: Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold headline Skate America
Olympic coaches don’t receive gold medals. Fiji Olympic men’s rugby coach Ben Ryan may have gotten something better anyway.
Ryan’s reward for guiding Fiji to its first Olympic medal in any sport — gold in rugby sevens’ Olympic debut — included three acres of land in Fiji and a new name, Ratu Peni Raiyani Latianara, according to Fijian reports.
Ryan, a London native, is stepping down as coach of the Fijian team. The 44-year-old coached the team for three years after leading the England national sevens team for six years.
MORE: Fiji wins nation’s first Olympic medal