Laurie Hernandez: My focus is next year

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Laurie Hernandez will not return to gymnastics competition this summer for the first time since the Rio Olympics, as she had hoped.

Hernandez, who said last August that she wanted to compete in 2019 but needed to find a coach and a gym first, did not enter Saturday’s U.S. Classic, a meet required for her to be eligible for the national championships in August.

“We want to go out there when we’re completely ready,” Hernandez said last month while promoting Alcon’s “Eye Can, Eye Will” campaign, when she said she had not yet decided on whether to compete this summer. “Our focus is definitely early next year.”

USA Gymnastics rules dictate that any gymnast who has not competed in the last two years, nor attended a national team camp, must compete at Saturday’s meet to be eligible for nationals.

Hernandez said she has trained since October at Gym-Max in California, the former gym of 2012 Olympian Kyla Ross. Hernandez trained in her native New Jersey through the Rio Games.

Hernandez repeated over the last year that she’s hoping to join 2016 Olympic champion teammate Simone Biles in a Tokyo 2020 bid. Other Final Five members Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas neither competed since Rio nor shown any signs of a return.

The fifth member of the team, Madison Kocian, retired from elite gymnastics but does compete collegiately for UCLA.

In their absences, Biles continued to stand alone in her comeback last year. Morgan Hurd, the 2017 World all-around champion during Biles’ break, Riley McCusker and Jade Carey have also established themselves as strong candidates for the Olympics.

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