Laurie Hernandez

Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Women's Sports Foundation

Laurie Hernandez eyes return to competition in 2018

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NEW YORK – Laurie Hernandez hardly considers her 14 months away from competitive gymnastics a break.

Since earning Olympic team gold and balance beam silver in Rio, the 17-year-old won “Dancing with the Stars,” authored a book and even enrolled in ballet lessons.

But her most rewarding experience has been speaking at schools. Students have asked her seemingly every question, from when she started taking gymnastics classes (age 5) to whether she climbed trees when she was younger (yes, all the time).

Seeing how many children were inspired by her Rio performance motivated Hernandez as she prepares to return to the sport.

“I didn’t realize at the Olympics how many people were truly watching,” Hernandez said Wednesday night at the annual Women’s Sports Foundation Salute to Women in Sports. “Now I’m excited to get back into the gym.”

Hernandez recently added handstand holds, back tucks and front flips to her conditioning program, in addition to continuing to run and lift weights.

“It’s a little difficult, but it’s fine,” she said. “I’ll push it a little more after the holidays.”

She has her eye on returning to competition in 2018.

“That’s definitely the hope,” Hernandez said. “I’m not going to rush anything, but I would love to compete in 2018.”

Hernandez, who said her next goal in gymnastics is to compete at the world championships for the first time and hopefully the 2020 Olympics, has not yet identified her comeback meet.

She noted that Aly Raisman took more than two years off after the London Olympics.

“I know every athlete is different,” Hernandez said. “But I wouldn’t mind following in her footsteps.”

Simone Biles, who has not competed since winning four gold medals in Rio, recently announced that she plans on returning to full-time training Nov. 1 and competition next summer.

“I look up to her, even though we are teammates,” Hernandez said. “I can’t wait to see her out there, but hopefully I’ll be out there with her soon.”

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MORE: Laurie Hernandez explains wink, nervous Olympic moments in book excerpt

Simone Biles says she’s back in the gym (video)

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Simone Biles is back in the gym.

In between giggles, Biles said she returned to the gym two weeks ago in an NBCSN interview at the P&G Championships in Anaheim on Friday night.

“I actually started, like, two Fridays ago,” Biles said. “I’m weak. But I’m coming back. I’m just doing conditioning and basics right now.”

Biles last competed at the Rio Olympics, winning five medals, including four golds, for the greatest single-Games medal haul by a female gymnast in nearly three decades. That came after Biles swept every U.S. and world all-around title in that four-year Olympic cycle.

The 20-year-old said late last year and early this year that she planned to return to training in late 2017 or early 2018 with an eye on Tokyo 2020.

“It’s OK to sit out one [year],” Biles said. “I can’t imagine being out on the floor now.”

Biles has not set a return to competition. Her longtime coach, Aimee Boorman, moved from Texas to Florida after Rio.

If Biles makes the Tokyo 2020 team, she can attempt to become the first woman to repeat as Olympic all-around champion since the late Czech Věra Čáslavská in 1964 and 1968.

Gabby Douglas attempted this feat in Rio but did not qualify for the all-around final.

Douglas said in July that she has not decided whether she will return to competition.

Aly Raisman said in September that she plans to return to training after taking 2017 off. Laurie Hernandez said she hopes to go for 2020 but has not set a return to training.

Madison Kocian is the lone member of the Olympic 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.

Kocian said in June that she has not decided if she will return to elite gymnastics.

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Final Five: Where is Olympic gymnastics team now?

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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.”

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