2012 Olympic Champion Kyla Ross retired from elite gymnastics in February 2016, but her career isn’t over yet. Now, the two-time World all-around medalist is beginning a new journey as an NCAA athlete, competing for the gymnastics team at UCLA. In this Q&A, Kyla talks about transitioning to UCLA, her elite career, and more.

Inside Gymnastics: What are you most looking forward to as a UCLA student and as a collegiate gymnast?
Kyla Ross: I am super excited to be a student-athlete on campus at UCLA. The atmosphere in the athlete training facilities and the atmosphere in the classrooms are both filled with people who strive for excellence, and it is something that is contagious all around campus. I am a little nervous but also excited to start my classes in the fall. As for collegiate gymnastics, there are going to be many transitions that I to have to make, but I am looking forward to all the new opportunities. My college coaches and teammates are the best, and I love the support and bond we all have for each other. I am so excited to compete with my team this year!

Inside: Have you been training a new floor routine?
Kyla: Yes, Miss Val will be choreographing my new floor routine. She has such a unique style and creates amazing floor routines so I can’t wait to get my new routine.

Inside: What prompted your decision to retire before the 2016 Olympics?
Kyla: The decision to retire from elite gymnastics before the 2016 Olympics was one of the hardest decisions I have had to make in my life, but I know it was the right decision for me. I was not fully passionate about doing elite gymnastics anymore, and I did not want to go through with the Olympic process if my heart was not completely dedicated to that goal.

Inside: What’s your favorite gymnastics memory from the last several years?
Kyla: Just being able to represent the U.S. at the highest level, all while doing the sport I love so much, has been such a humbling experience. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had and the memories I have made through the sport of gymnastics. It has really shaped me into the person I am today, and I have made so many life-long friends along my journey.

Inside: What’s one thing you wish you had known before the start of your elite career?
Kyla: I would not have changed anything about how I started my elite career. I went into my first elite competition completely unaware of how the elite system ran, and I believe this was to my advantage.

Inside: What are your goals for your first year at UCLA?
Kyla: For gym, my goal for my first year at UCLA is to help my team win a National Championship and in school, my goal is to get good grades in my classes.

Inside: Do you ever get the urge to return to elite?
Kyla: No, I never get the urge to return to elite because I have no regrets of my decision. I accomplished my biggest goals as an athlete in elite gymnastics, and I am excited to move onto my next chapter in my life, which is college!

Inside: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Kyla: I want to end by thanking all the people in my life who have supported me during my elite career. My coaches, Howie and Jenny, who have impacted my life in the biggest way, my family for their endless love and support, my teammates who motivated me in the gym each day, all my chiropractors and doctors that kept me healthy, all my fans for their continued support, and lastly Martha, who always pushed me to be the best gymnast I could be.

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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