Madison Kocian

Final Five: Where is Olympic gymnastics team now?

Leave a comment

The Final Five gathers at the P&G Championships this weekend, but the gold-medal-winning gymnasts will not be in competition leotards.

Simone BilesGabby DouglasAly RaismanLaurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian are set to be inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame in Anaheim on Saturday.

They will also be honored inside the Honda Center on Sunday, following the final day of competition.

But for the first time since 2008, zero Olympians are entered at a national championships.

Will any of them come back before the Tokyo Games? A look at where each gymnast stands, one year after they dominated in Rio:

P&G CHAMPS: Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview |
TV Schedule | Final Five Updates

Simone Biles
Four golds, one bronze in Rio

The Olympic all-around champion reportedly said in January that she plans to return to training at the end of 2017 or early 2018.

“I don’t know [what year] I’ll be back for the world championships,” Biles said then, according to the Houston Chronicle. “I have to get in shape, and we have trials for worlds, but hopefully the next goal after if I make worlds teams and championships is the Olympics again.”

Biles’ longtime coach, Aimee Boorman, moved from Texas to Florida after Rio.

Gabby Douglas
Three Olympic medals, all gold

The 2012 Olympic all-around champion is the lone member of the Final Five who has not committed to returning to training.

“We’ll see. I mean, right now, it’s up in the air,” Douglas said last month. “I’m enjoying the time off.”

After the London Games, Douglas returned to training the following spring, bouncing around the country before ultimately landing in Ohio for her return to competition in March 2015.

“This time is different because I’ve been to two Olympics, and I always wanted to go to two Olympics,” Douglas said. “But right now since I’ve been doing gymnastics for 14 years, I am taking this time off, especially growing into my own person.”

Aly Raisman
Six Olympic medals, three gold

The senior member of the Final Five — Raisman is 23 — was the first team member to commit to another Olympic run. Last September, Raisman said she planned to take a year off.

“I’m going to take off a little bit of time, just because I think I need a little bit of a break,” Raisman said on “Ellen” two weeks after the Rio Closing Ceremony. “I took a full year off in 2012 [after the London Olympics]. I’m going to do the same thing.”

If Raisman repeats the plan from the last Olympic cycle, she would train in 2018 and return to competition in 2019.

Laurie Hernandez
Olympic team gold, balance beam silver

Hernandez, after winning “Dancing with the Stars,” said she planned to return to the sport but did not have a set date.

“I plan on easing back into [gymnastics training] at the end of the summer,” she said, according to an Inside Gymnastics report in June. “I think mentally and physically I needed a break, but I’m ready to get back at it soon.”

Madison Kocian
Olympic team gold, uneven bars silver

Kocian is the lone member of the team who has competed since Rio, but it wasn’t on the elite stage. The Texan did a full freshman season for UCLA with a torn labrum and partially torn rotator cuff in her shoulder.

Most women retire from elite international competition when they choose the NCAA route. Kocian had not yet, as of June, but is taking this summer off.

“I know I have accomplished so much already,” she said in June. “It’s just a matter of if I feel like I need to do anything else before closing that door. It’s still open. I could stop in college after next year and start training [elite], or finish my four years in college and continue my life.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Biles gets her own gymnastics meet

Madison Kocian, competing with tear, glad she stuck with NCAA gymnastics

Getty Images
1 Comment

Madison Kocian is the only member of the Final Five who has competed since the Rio Olympics. She’s the only one who didn’t turn professional.

And, get this, Kocian competed both in Rio and this past season as a UCLA freshman with an injured shoulder.

She said she suffered a small subluxation (partial dislocation) on an uneven bars release move at the Olympic Trials but managed through it to win Olympic team gold and bars silver medals. Kocian previously fractured her left tibia in February 2016.

Resting last fall didn’t help matters much. Kocian then competed with a torn labrum and partially torn rotator cuff for UCLA in the spring semester, doing the all-around in 12 of 14 meets and winning half of them.

“That was the hardest thing going through the season,” Kocian said in a phone interview last month. “Nothing’s going to really heal the tear unless you do surgery. We were trying every other option.”

Kocian is taking the summer off (no surgery plans yet as of the interview). That means the P&G Championships in August will include no female gymnasts with Olympic experience for the first time since 2008.

Most women retire from elite international competition when they choose the NCAA route. Kocian has not yet.

“I know I have accomplished so much already,” said Kocian, who shared the 2015 World uneven bars title with three other gymnasts. “It’s just a matter of if I feel like I need to do anything else before closing that door. It’s still open. I could stop in college after next year and start training [elite], or finish my four years in college and continue my life.”

In this stretch last year, between the Olympic Trials and Rio Games, Kocian saw the last of her Olympic teammates turn pro (Laurie Hernandez).

Kocian said she was always set on competing as a Bruin, which meant keeping her amateur status for NCAA eligibility.

“I wanted to experience the college student-athlete life and be a part of that different world,” Kocian said. “The hardest part for me was after the Olympics, the media engagements and appearances. I couldn’t get paid for that.”

Kocian, a Texan, juggled her first quarter in Los Angeles while performing at seven stops of a 36-city USA Gymnastics post-Olympic tour and accepting an invitation to the Country Music Association Awards in Nashville.

She made the honor roll in the fall, winter and spring quarters.

“I didn’t know how I was going to make it through traveling and school at the same time,” she said. “I think maybe I should have come into school in January [rather than September].”

Kocian thought about it some more and continued her answer.

“Fall is preseason and where you really get to know your team and teammates,” before the season starts in January, she said. “I think if I would have went in January, starting school and gym season at the same time would have been even more tough.”

Kocian’s remaining UCLA goals are to earn as many All-America honors as possible (she has four; the UCLA career record is 19) and capture an NCAA team title. UCLA was fourth last season and last won in 2010.

“It was something different, a totally new experience that I was just getting used to,” she said. “I found my rhythm.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Aly Raisman announces book details

Madison Kocian, Kyla Ross make history with NCAA gymnastics debuts

Madison Kocian, Jordyn Wieber
UCLA
Leave a comment

UCLA freshmen Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross became the first U.S. Olympic female champions to compete in NCAA gymnastics on Saturday.

Kocian earned Rio gold in the team event and silver on uneven bars. Ross was part of the London Olympic champion team.

On Saturday, Kocian won the all-around (though only four gymnasts did all four events total) in a UCLA dual meet with Arkansas. Kocian and Ross were part of a three-way tie for the top uneven bars score.

Full results are here.

UCLA coach Valorie Kondos Field said the Pauley Pavilion crowd of 6,513 was the largest for the first meet of a season in program history.

Those watching included fellow Olympians Simone Biles and Danell Leyva, plus 2012 Olympic champion Jordyn Wieber, who is now a UCLA volunteer assistant coach.

Biles committed to compete for UCLA back in 2014, delaying her enrollment until after the Olympics, but then turned pro in 2015, giving up her NCAA eligibility.

No other U.S. Olympic gold-medal-winning female gymnasts competed collegiately, largely because most reached the Olympics before college and then turned professional, forfeiting NCAA eligibility.

Every member of the Magnificent Seven turned pro. As did 2004 Olympic champion Carly Patterson and 2008 Olympic champions Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson and every other member of the 2012 and 2016 U.S. Olympic women’s teams.

Many 2000, 2004 and 2008 U.S. Olympic female gymnasts who earned silver and bronze medals competed collegiately, some before earning their medals and some after.

Several men’s gold medalists competed collegiately before winning Olympic titles, most recently Barcelona 1992 high bar champion Trent Dimas.

MORE: When will Simone Biles return?