In this new Q&A, Bailie Key of Texas Dreams chats with us about the back injury that caused her to miss the 2016 season, her recovery and current training, and her decision to compete for Alabama instead of Florida.

Inside Gymnastics: How is your training and recovery going?
Bailie Key: Training is going well. I just started physical therapy for my back last week, so I am really focusing on core conditioning and getting strong. I am just so happy to be able to go upside down again!

Inside: Tell us a little about your 2016 season and the injury that prevented you from continuing your Olympic bid.
Bailie: Although the 2016 season did not end up how I thought it would, I can honestly say that this whole year has been one of the biggest blessings in disguise. I was coming off a back injury and I was feeling great for a while, but then it started bothering me again. I was doing everything in my power to make my back feel better (massages, physical therapy, acupuncture, injections, etc). I kept trying to push through, but my back pain would not allow me to. I believe that everything happens for a reason and that God has a plan for everything! I have learned so much and there has been so much good that came out of this injury. One of the best things that happened to me was Alabama.

Inside: What are some of the reasons you decided to compete for Alabama?
Bailie: The coaches are a huge reason of why I picked Alabama. They are absolutely amazing! From the very first moment I talked to them, I felt like they truly cared for me as a person, and not just a gymnast. They constantly reminded me that they would always be there to support me. They were there for me when I really needed it. I also loved the mentality of the team. They have so much integrity and character and I can’t wait to be a part of such an outstanding program!

Inside: Will you return to elite competition before heading to Alabama?
Bailie: Right now my main focus is to get healthy and get all of my skills back, but I would love to return to elite competition before heading to BAMA.

Inside: When do you think your next competition will be?
Bailie: As of right now, I am not sure when my next competition will be. My goal is to get healthy and get all of my skills back and then I will see where I am.

Inside: Do you think you might train for Tokyo 2020?
Bailie: I have not thought much about Tokyo 2020. I am really just taking my comeback one day at a time and trying to be as patient as I can be.

Inside: What are your short-term and long-term gymnastics goals?
Bailie: My short-term goals are to really focus on my therapy and my comeback. My long-term goals would definitely be to return to elite competition and then go compete for BAMA and help contribute to a national championship!

Inside: What are you most looking forward to in collegiate gymnastics?
Bailie: I am most looking forward to the team aspect of collegiate gymnastics. Elite gymnastics differs from collegiate gymnastics because you are competing for yourself. I am really excited to be able to compete for a team! It seems like so much fun!

Inside: What are some of your favorite competition memories?
Bailie: One of my favorite competition memories that I will never forget is my very first international assignment. It was the 2013 Jesolo meet. I remember that Chris [Burdette, one of her coaches] went with me and I was so nervous about the competition. I honestly had no idea what I was doing, but I ended up placing third and I just had so much fun competing for Team USA for the first time!

Inside: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Bailie: I would like to thank my family, coaches, and friends for standing by my side this year. I can’t thank y’all enough for all of the support and I am so ready for this comeback!

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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