Gymnasts Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman Return to Competition

Mar 27, 2015 at 10:40 AM
Gymnasts Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman Return to Competition

From - By Kelly O'Mara

Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman are finally back.

The popular American gymnasts will both compete for the first time since the 2012 London Olympics at the City of Jesolo Trophy in Italy from March 28-29.

There will be stiff competition in Italy. Two-time all-around world champion Simone Biles will also compete for the U.S. team, as will Kyla Ross, Douglas and Raisman’s London teammate, and young up-and-comers like 2013 junior national champion Bailie Key. Biles won the Jesolo Trophy the last time she competed in the event in 2013, while Ross won the all-around title there last year.

Douglas won the all-around competition at the London Games, while Raisman took gold in the floor exercise and fourth in the all-around. Both were also part of the gold medal-winning American team.

Since the 2012 Olympics, though, a lot has changed. Biles, who was too young to compete in London, has been dominant on the world scene the last two years. She won an impressive five medals at the 2014 World Championships, including four golds. She has not gone up against either Douglas or Raisman, since both took a break after the Olympics and only relatively recently returned to the sport.

Both Douglas and Raisman attended the national team camp in November, and have said they are aiming for Rio. If either makes the team, they will become the first American women gymnasts to make back-to-back Olympic teams since 2000. Ross, who won silver and bronze medals at the last two world championships, could also earn that distinction.

Fellow London teammate McKayla Maroney has said she also plans to make a run at Rio. While she has competed since London and won world championship medals, she was out for all of 2014 after knee surgery. The last of the “Fierce Five,” Jordyn Weiber, the 2011 all-around world champion, announced her retirement earlier this year.

Douglas was supposed to make her return at the P&G national championships at the end of 2014, but delayed her first competition after switching coaches last summer. Douglas had left her coach, Liang Chow, in 2013, but then returned to his gym in early 2014. She left again in the summer, reportedly due to a failure to reach agreed-upon contract terms.

Since then she has been training at Buckeye Gymnastics, in Ohio, under coach Kittia Carpenter. “She comes in like everybody else, lines up like everybody else and doesn’t consider herself extra special,” Carpenter said in an interview with ESPN. “She has a very tough competitive spirit, but the kind-hearted, thankful person shows up in workouts.”

Douglas has been hard at work in the gym, and fans are eager to see if the training will pay off next weekend. To give people a sneak peek, Douglas showed off her new floor routine in a video USA Gymnastics posted to YouTube:

She’s expected to unveil a number of new moves at the competition in Italy. ESPN also shot a video of Douglas’ training, which appears to include conditioning like jumping rope while wearing a weighted vest. She said that she’s feeling stronger than before and is upgrading a number of her routines.

Douglas has said that she isn’t just aiming to return to the Olympics. She wants to defend her all-around gold. The last woman to win back-to-back all around golds was VÄ›ra ÄŒáslavská in 1964 and 1968.

The Jesolo Trophy competition will be streamed live here by the Italian Gymnastics Federation.


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