Gabby Douglas returns to training — Other gym news — Thoughts from Leanne Wong
The IX: Gymnastics Saturday with Lela Moore, Oct. 22, 2022
Happy gymnastics Saturday! The big gym news this week is that Gabby Douglas is training again.
GymCastic tweeted this news out, saying they’d confirmed a rumor (of which Lauren Hopkins of The Gymternet then said she was the source, having heard it from coaches) that Douglas was training at WOGA in Frisco, Texas.
I’m confident that those sources are accurate (and find it odd that Jessica O’Beirne of GymCastic and Hopkins are considered unreliable when they run two of the longest-standing gymnastics outlets — I think we still have a long way to go before podcasts and blogs are regarded as legit journalism, even in 2022, and especially when they are run by women. Stepping off that soapbox now…). But the news does remind me that virtually all we know about Douglas directly, especially since she competed at her second Olympics in 2016, has been from a few social posts.
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What Douglas has told us: she was a victim of Larry Nassar. The path to the Rio Olympics was “hell x2” for her, and she rarely discusses gymnastics. She recently took a break from social media to work on her mental health, and has made allusions to healing emotionally before.
What she has not told us: how she feels about being the unspoken boogeyman of not one but two gymnastics documentaries: “Athlete A,” where it is intimated that she kept Maggie Nichols off the 2016 Olympic team, and “Golden,” where MyKayla Skinner intimates that Douglas kept her off the 2016 Olympic team. She also hasn’t told us how she feels about being regarded as difficult to coach and a gym-hopper in her build-up to 2016, when she was likely trying to protect her own assets and support her family while continuing to train at a high level. Nor has she shared how she feels about the racist undertones of the commentary on her in both London and Rio, about the comparisons to Simone Biles, about her seeming estrangement from her teammates from both Olympics.
And you know what? She owes us nothing. She has not exactly been treated well by media, establishment or otherwise, nor by people in the gymnastics world. I hope Douglas is healthy, happy and enjoying being in the gym again, and I wish her all the best.
Other gym news
Here’s all the info you need to watch the U.S. women’s worlds selection camp this weekend.
Simone Biles spoke with USA Today about mentoring foster children through her work with the nonprofit Friends of the Children.
British Gymnastics released Reform ’25, a 40-point plan to reform their system after many gymnastics alleged abuse.
A video of Guan Chenchen’s family reacting to her gold medal beam routine at the Tokyo Olympics:
I also love that Lynn Raisman, she of the viral parental response to a child winning gold, responded to this video with a smiley emoji.
UC Davis fired head gymnastics coach John Lavallee. Tanya Ho will serve as interim head coach this season. Lavallee, who was about to begin his 15th season at Davis, was accused of racism by his former gymnast Alexis Brown in 2020. Brown, who graduated in 2018, took a knee during meets in 2017 as a gesture of support for Colin Kaepernick. Brown alleged that Lavallee and her teammates treated her with hostility in response to the kneeling.
Skye Blakeley talked to The Dallas Morning News about going for worlds.
Aleah Finnegan on breaking out of her sister Sarah’s shadow at LSU.
Omaha plans to bid for the 2024 Olympic Trials.
Olivia Greaves just had a fourth surgery and is recovering:
Martina Maggio wins the all-around title at Italian nationals.
Dutch worlds team announced: Eve de Ruiter, Eythora Thorsdottir, Sanna Veerman, Naomi Visser and Tisha Volleman.
Canada’s worlds team announced:
Ella Bucio of Mexico won the first Parkour World Championships title.
GymCastic released a 10-year reunion episode this week. Somewhat relative to what I said up at the top of this newsletter, it’s very interesting to listen to the four OG hosts discuss the pod’s evolution from, essentially, snarky audio message board to legit journalistic outlet, breaking stories and covering the Olympics live from Tokyo.
NCAA commitments of the week
Lily Bruce to Florida
Marissa Neal to Auburn
Sophia Bell to Auburn
Kailin Chio to LSU
Five at The IX: Leanne Wong
Leanne Wong took media questions Tuesday from the University of Florida before heading to worlds selection camp, which takes place this weekend in Katy, Tex. I could not attend in person, but submitted questions in advance. The first three questions below are mine, identified by my initials; the next two were submitted by other media. Wong confirmed that she will be competing all-around at selection camp, including two vaults. She also said that her injury recovery after the first day of U.S. Nationals, when she withdrew from the first day of competition and competed only bars and beam on the second day, has been relatively smooth.
LM: After a year of doing both college and elite gymnastics, how do you feel about the balance of the two in your life?
LW: Doing college and elite gymnastics has been a lot, but I feel like I’ve been so busy that I haven’t really thought about it. We just had our 13 weeks in college season, and now we’re onto elite season, and pretty soon it will be over.
LM: What are your goals for worlds this year? And how do they compare to your goals for NCAA?
LW: I guess my first goal is to make the worlds team. So from there, I just want to have a really good experience and just be able to compete on the world stage again. And since I did it last year, I want to improve on that performance.
I’d say the most similar goals between elite and college are to win!
LM: How is your bow business going?
LW: My bow business is going really well, thank you for asking. Our business is growing…it’s just really fun to see all of the little girls wearing my signature hair bows. I think it’s really cool.
How are you handling coaching while doing elite and college at the same time?
LW: The coaching is going really well. I think the coaches are really helping me with my goal and they are helping me work my elite skills now, and then, when it comes to season, I’ll just switch my gears and get ready for college.
Are you going to take a year off?
LW: I’m not sure if I’m going to take a year off for Paris. I still have time to decide, so I’m just going to take it day by day.
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