In what was the most anticipated practice session since Shawn Johnson’s return to the gym nearly four years ago, Olympic champion Gabby Douglas returned to training Monday at Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance in Des Moines, Iowa, according to a short article by the Associated Press.
Douglas announced to reporters at the American Cup in March that she planned to return to Iowa and train with coach Liang Chow beginning this month, though Chow told The Des Moines Register earlier this month that if Douglas was coming back, she had not yet approached him about it.
Apparently Chow met with Douglas and her mother Natalie Hawkins in the interim to work out a schedule. At just 17, it’s unlikely that able-bodied Douglas will have much difficulty returning to the top of her game, even though she has now won gymnastics’s biggest prize. Furthermore, in her encounters with the media, she seems to have lost none of her exuberance for gymnastics in spite of the work it takes to get and stay at her level.
If anything is likely to hamper her comeback, it’s injury (there’s always that) or the travel and media demands of being an Olympic champion, something that was a distraction for Johnson and Nastia Liukin as they attempted comebacks for 2012. Not that Douglas (unlike Jordyn Wieber, it seems) will be attempting a comeback this year — Chow put the timeline for her return as 2014.
“It will take the discipline to keep training,” U.S. National Team Coordinator Martha Karolyi told reporters at the Olympics last summer when asked about Douglas’s future. “Just because you became Olympic champion doesn’t mean that the road will be easier to become a World Champion next year.”
“Some burn out and some not,” Karolyi added. “If they love the sport enough, then they come back. You have to love the process. You cannot just think about the results.”
Douglas said in March that she had been in contact with Travis and Missy Parton, whose family welcomed her into their fold late in 2010 when she relocated from Virginia to Iowa to train with Chow, and that they would be open to having her stay with them again as she prepares for another Olympic run.
The Gymnastics Examiner | Facebook | Twitter | Subscribe above