By Anna Rose Johnson
We’ve reached that thrilling halfway point between Olympic Games. Two years ago, the world gathered in Rio to witness an array of spectacular performances from celebrated athletes, and now we’re two years away from Tokyo 2020. Inevitably, conversation in the gymnastics community turns to the next Olympics, with fans wondering which veteran gymnasts will press on for a shot at Olympic glory. Let’s take a look at a handful of seasoned athletes who are considering a run at Tokyo:
Feature Photo by Grace Chiu
Two-time Olympic team champions Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas have left the door open for Tokyo. After Rio, both Raisman and Douglas discussed the possibility of pushing for a third Olympics. Raisman – who has emerged as one of the leading voices advocating change for the sport – has since shown signs of not pursuing a comeback, and Douglas hasn’t made any comments recently on the subject of Tokyo. However, Raisman and Douglas didn’t return to competition until spring 2015 in their last comebacks, so there’s certainly still time for both of them to return.
Simone Biles and Laurie Hernandez are in the gym and working toward comebacks in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Biles’ training videos are looking outstanding, and she intends to make her competitive return at the U.S. Classic at the end of July, while Hernandez is just stepping back into training and plans to return to competition at some point in 2019.
The final member of the Final Five, 2016 Olympic uneven bars silver medalist Madison Kocian, recently contributed to UCLA’s historic NCAA title, but Kocian also never closed the door on Tokyo. She could definitely be in the hunt for an apparatus specialist slot in the new 4+2 format with her prowess on bars.
MyKayla Skinner and Maggie Nichols are two successful U.S. gymnasts who might consider a run at Tokyo. Skinner has maintained a high level of difficulty while competing at the University of Utah, showcasing her powerful tumbling at every competition, so the transition back to elite could be fairly easy for her. Nichols – who recently won the 2018 NCAA all-around title – has said in the past that she might make an elite comeback with 2020 in mind. Skinner and Nichols will be seniors in 2020 and wrap their final NCAA season just three months before the Olympics – certainly an ideal setting for a return to the elite stage.
Canada’s Brittany Rogers is another former NCAA athlete who is currently considering Tokyo. As a decorated veteran of the Canadian program and one of Georgia Gymnastics’ biggest stars in recent years, the 2012 and 2016 Olympian won several medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in April, but she has not yet made clear whether a push for 2020 is in the cards. Could we see Rogers back for her third games?
After a brief retirement following the summer 2017 season, China’s Shang Chunsong returned to competition earlier this month. She made her comeback at the 2018 Chinese National Championships, competing on balance beam and floor exercise with scores of 14.000 and 12.600, respectively, in the qualification round. With beam scores somewhat low under the current Code of Points, Chunsong’s 14.000 is a promising number. This 2016 Olympian and fan favorite could be a huge force for China in 2020.
Can’t wait for the next Olympic Games? We can’t either! Read more about Tokyo 2020 in our June issue, including thoughts on the new format, storylines to follow and rising stars to watch. Subscribe today!
Anna Rose Johnson writes about women’s artistic and rhythmic gymnastics. She loves Whippets, brownies, and full-twisting double layouts. Her writing portfolio can be viewed at: https://annarosejohnson.contently.com.