Retirement season — Thoughts from Kyana George — Gym news
The IX: Gymnastics Saturday with Jessica Taylor Price, October 2, 2021
(Scheduling note: Hockey Friday this week will come to you on Sunday. Technically, we guess that makes it Hockey Sunday.)
The gods have smiled upon us this week because Lauren Hopkins created her master list of all the world championship teams, so I can stop trying to compile them here. It’s a bit more comprehensive than what I shared last week, including a few countries I missed.
Notable additions this week are Austria and Switzerland, and a notable withdrawal came in the form of Claudia Fragapane, who sadly had to bow out due to injury. She has yet to be replaced.
So far, we’ve gotten rosters from most of the biggest gym nations. The Chinese National Games concluded (event finals results via Golden China), where Zhou Yaqin surprised for beam gold and Fan Yilin won bars. Now, we wait. Germany will hold its second worlds trial on Saturday, The Balance Beam Situation reports (Spencer also noticed that subdivision nine only has six gymnasts, which is positively hilarious).
But if you’re like me, you’re chomping at the bit to see what the hell is going on with the U.S. We got a taste of it this week when USA Gymnastics released a list (and only that) of athletes who participated in last weekend’s national team training camp:
- Ciena Alipio
- Skye Blakely
- Kayla DiCello
- Amari Drayton
- Addison Fatta
- eMjae Frazier
- Olivia Greaves
- Ava Siegfeldt
- Leanne Wong
Notably absent is Konnor McClain, who recently said she was making a bid for the team. Obviously there are some clear favorites here, like Olympic alternates Wong and DiCello, but of course everything will depend on the level of readiness we see at next week’s trials. Juniors also participated in the camp in advance of the Junior Pan American Games.
Unfortunately, like with the Olympics in a normal year, worlds and worlds selections also signal retirement for many athletes. For one, Murakami Mai has announced that she may retire following world championships. Here is the correct reaction to this news:
A bunch of athletes from China also say they intend to retire following the conclusion of the National Games and worlds selection, including Chen Yile and literally all your other faves:
Finally — are you sitting down? — Guilia Steingruber. This one hits hard, as Steingruber has been in the sport for so very long, as long as I’ve been following it.
Steingruber isn’t going to worlds, so this is the end of the road. After such a long and successful career, we wish her all the best in her future rightside up adventures.
- The final two episodes of Simone vs. Herself are about as heartbreaking as you could imagine:
But things end on a peaceful note. I highly recommend.
- Speaking of Simone, this profile from New York Magazine is beautiful and perfect, and I for one am taking away a lot from it. Also highly recommend.
- Rebeca Andrade did this at Brazilian nationals and scored over a 57 in the all-around:
- Oksana Chusovitina apparently loves messing with us, because she announced she’s trying for the 2022 Asian Games (Olympic Channel).
- Skye Blakely committed to Florida, and Olivia Greaves is going to Auburn — College Gym News has a good overview of what’s gone on with her in the past year.
- Zsofia Kovacs won the Hungarian Grand Prix (Intl Gymnast).
- If you ever want to know what’s going on behind the scenes of the GOAT tour, MyKayla Skinner is vlogging everything. And if you want to know what’s going on in front of the scenes of the GOAT tour, On Her Turf has got you covered.
- Sunisa Lee did this on Dancing with the Stars:
- The Gymternet translated this new interview with Martha Karolyi, which you should only read if you want to become very angry.
- Some news from the Anna Li case: U.S. Center for SafeSport still conducting interviews in Legacy case two months after it said it was writing final report (The OC Register)
Tweet of the week
Luba has a point:
Five at the IX: Kyana George
Kyana George is a redshirt senior at Cal who unfortunately just tore her Achilles. She kindly spoke to me about her recovery, NIL, and what legacy she hopes to leave behind in the sport. Edited for clarity and length.
How is your rehab going?
It is actually going really well. I got out of a soft cast last Tuesday and now my goal is just getting movement into my Achilles and making sure I can get it to 90 degrees. Our goal is about three weeks for me to start walking in a boot, so hopefully that happens.
What are the chances you’ll be able to compete this year?
They’re about 99% sure that I’m not going to be able to compete this year.
What are you looking forward to for this competitive season?
I’m kind of looking forward to not only enjoying meets but getting a different perspective. I train with my teammates and I watch them during competitions, but I think it‘s going to be a different type of experience in the sense of me not only focusing on my routines, but I get to finally put all my energy into them and into their performance. And so I’m really looking forward to that.
Are there any last-minute things you want to accomplish as a senior?
Last year was just kind of a one-of-a-kind experience — I wasn’t necessarily planning on taking the fifth year — so I think last year I just really left it all out on the floor. This year, I really just wanted it to be a fun year. Obviously I didn’t plan on getting injured, but if I wasn’t injured, my same goals were just enjoying it, because I’ve already accomplished what I wanted to, which was to compete all four years consecutively. When I took the fifth year, it was definitely for me to just finally enjoy every single moment and soak up every single moment.
Are you taking advantage of NIL?
NIL is helping me to figure out my brand and what I would like to do. It’s definitely up to me to figure out what I would like to do past gymnastics, and now being injured, I kind of want to focus on possibly working with brands that are about recovery, and for me personally, I really do enjoy that I’m able to take the opportunities to do something with gymnastics like photoshoots or being able to do panels or working camps, just kind of staying in the gymnastics environment.
Do you think NIL is a good thing, and why or why not?
I think it definitely has its pros and cons. I think it’s really nice especially for Olympic hopefuls. At such a young age you’re trying to decide, do I go the elite route and take the money or do I go to college and pursue more gymnastics? And I think that’s a great opportunity now for girls to be able to do both. I think that’s a great opportunity now that they can now go to college and be able to have those opportunities especially with social media being a big thing.
For those who are viral it’s a very good opportunity. Social media, it is a job. It takes a lot of energy; it’s a lot of work, and I think for those athletes who are very active on social media, it’s a great opportunity for them. For someone like me, I’m not necessarily that active on social media, but this does allow me to explore more opportunities and kind of figure out what I would like to do in my life past gymnastics.
What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
I would definitely say just kind of being that teammate or that gymnast that always had a smile on her face. Other people can just tell that I truly was just grateful not only to be a part of Cal and being part of the team, but just being able to be a part of this sport. It’s definitely helped me through my ups and downs in life. I’d say I hope the legacy I leave is just being positive, and truly enjoying the sport.
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