Gabby Douglas is gradually picking up her old skills, said USA Gymnastics National Team coordinator Martha Karolyi, who would like to see the Olympic all-around champion compete twice to be considered for October’s World Championships team.
Douglas attended a U.S. camp last week at the Karolyi ranch for the first time since winning two gold medals at the London Games.
Karolyi said at the end of the five-day camp that she was pleasantly surprised with Douglas’ fitness and the gymnast had a reasonable chance to get back into full shape before the World Championships in China that begin Oct. 3.
“I didn’t know what to expect because I did not see Gabby for two years,” Karolyi said in a phone interview Wednesday. “Every camp we start with verification of physical abilities, and I just saw her doing everything just like she did before.”
That doesn’t mean Douglas is in competition shape, though. Karolyi said Douglas’ intention is to prepare to compete in August. The National Team coordinator wants to see Douglas at the next National Team camp in three weeks and in competition at the Secret U.S. Classic on Aug. 2 in Hoffman Estates, Ill., and the P&G Championships from Aug. 21-24 in Pittsburgh.
“It was pretty nice to see that most of her skills are back, not connected in her routines, but separately,” Karolyi said. “Everything will depend on how much she will be focusing in her training, just like she trained before the Olympics, if she will be able to get ready and compete successfully.”
Douglas must compete at the P&G Championships to be eligible for the World Championships, but since she has not competed since the Olympics, she is not automatically eligible for the P&G Championships yet. Competing at the Secret U.S. Classic could qualify her into the U.S. Championships, or she skip it and petition her way to Pittsburgh.
Karolyi also provided updates on other U.S. gymnasts who have been away from action.
World all-around champion Simone Biles withdrew from April’s Pacific Rim Championships with a shoulder injury. She participated at last week’s camp.
“This training camp, her training on bars was a little bit behind, but the other events, they were looking very good,” Karolyi said. “So she’s on her way to get back in shape just in the right time to compete in [the Secret U.S.] Classic and [P&G] Championships.”
World vault champion McKayla Maroney had knee surgery in March and did not attend last week’s camp.
“I know that she was just released from her therapy, after the surgery,” Karolyi said. “She did strong recuperation. I think she will resume her training, in my opinion, in a very short time.”
Olympic floor exercise champion Aly Raisman is still in training. Raisman, who hasn’t competed since the London Games, has said she wants to return for her first National Team camp after the World Championships in October.
“She is working hard and getting also back her skills,” Karolyi said. “She definitely has aspirations to come back. She even wanted me to listen to some music for her new floor routine. I’m hoping that definitely next year it will be happening.”
Another Olympian, Jordyn Wieber, finishes her freshman year at UCLA this week, but she, too, has not competed since the Olympics.
“I really don’t know anything about Jordyn,” Karolyi said. “I don’t know absolutely anything about her training.”
Karolyi mentioned two other gymnasts when asked to name strong performers at last week’s camp.
“[Olympian] Kyla Ross has always [been] a great role model of very consistent work, and she is doing great, and she is an absolutely beautiful gymnast. I’m very much basing on her contribution to the World team,” Karolyi said. “Another name, which probably nobody has this name in their mind, is MyKayla Skinner. She is one of the gymnasts who came to our camps for several years but never was strong enough to be considered, but at this time her skill level is very high, and she improved her execution, which is also very important, her presentation and execution. That improved a lot. She has an excellent shot to be important at this World Championship.”
One more gymnast gaining attention is McKenna Kelley, the 17-year-old daughter of 1984 Olympic all-around champion Mary Lou Retton.
Kelley is in the process of moving into the U.S. elite program from the lower Junior Olympic program, but likely won’t improve quickly enough to be considered for this year’s World Championships, Karolyi said.
“She certainly is almost as bouncy as Mary Lou was,” said Karolyi, who coached Retton with her husband, Bela, three decades ago. “She would need a little bit more time, but she shows great potential. … She will be in the elite program, but it’s just the beginning, and it takes time to move up to a higher level.”