ST. LOUIS – If Martha Karolyi isn’t hitting the panic button on Gabby Douglas, neither should anyone else.
Sure, the national team coordinator would have liked to see the defending all-around Olympic gold medalist perform better at U.S. championships. But with less than two weeks until Olympic trials, Karolyi is not concerned about how Douglas will respond.
“Gabby, she has place for improvement, but I think she knows. I think it was good for her to see that we need to up it a tiny bit,” said Karolyi. “She is the gymnast who in a fairly short time can gain much better consistency, so I trust that she will be in a better place in the trials.”
Douglas’ fourth-place total of 117.800 was 2.7 points back of Laurie Hernandez, and 7.2 behind winner Simone Biles, who claimed her fourth consecutive U.S. title at Chaifetz Arena on Sunday.
Despite landing out of bounds on a tumbling pass in her floor exercise, Douglas finished with a two-day score on that event that put her in fifth. That was her highest finish in any event.
That came after an uncharacteristic mistake on uneven bars, Douglas’ best event. She lost her balance on a pirouette move on the lower bar and, while she didn’t come off the bars, she posted one of her lowest scores of the night.
Douglas responded with a 15.050 on beam in one of the high points of the competition.
“In the gym, it’s been a lot more consistent, so we were a little caught off guard maybe,” said Kittia Carpenter, Douglas’ coach. “I was glad to see her come back strong on beam after missing a bar routine that she never really misses at all.”
Despite her finish, Douglas remains confident – and she has precedent to look to.
In the 2012 U.S. championships, Douglas came off beam on her way to finishing second. She won trials and then claimed gold in London.
At last year’s U.S. championships, Douglas finished fifth in the all-around. Less than three months later, she was second to Biles at world championships.
“Yeah, it’s kind of my history to come from the bottom to the top. I’m used to it,” Douglas said. “I’m kind of liking it. It just gives me déjà vu of 2012. It’s gonna be good and I’m just really excited about the journey ahead.”
Douglas’ conditioning is good, Karolyi said, but she needs to get more routines under her belt.
In the likely event she makes the Olympic team after trials, she’ll have a week of training camp at the Karolyi ranch before the team leaves for Rio. It’s there that Carpenter expects to see improvement.
“I think she responds to Martha really well,” Carpenter said. “And Martha makes her believe that she can do it, too, so I think that helps her.”
Certainly, Karolyi still believes in a gymnast who has delivered on the biggest stage – even if Douglas’ performance at nationals raised a few eyebrows.
“She always peaks a little bit late,” Karolyi said. “Sometimes it makes me nervous. But then she is able to perform at the most important moment.”
Source: USA Today