Doing It For Dad – Konnor McClain and Shilese Jones Finish 1 &2 | 2022 U.S. Championships 

You couldn’t write a better script for the outcome of the 2022 U.S. Championships. Two young women who have experienced tremendous loss in the last year with the passing of their fathers, stand first and second on the medal podium, donning leotards honoring their dads. 

In her first senior U.S. Championship, Konnor McClain was cool and collected, soaring to the top with a combined two-day total of 112.750. McClain also snagged the beam title in Tampa.

McClain told us before the competition her goal was simply to hit her routines and have fun, not wanting to set the expectations too high. The last few month have been particularly hard after battling shin splits in both her legs, recovering from a concussion the week of the U.S. Classic and then coming down with the flu just last week. After the competition, McClain could barely find the words to describe how she was feeling. 

“This is so unbelievable right now,” McClain said. “It’s so unreal and I honestly can’t believe it. I’m still in shock a little bit right now.” 

The thoughts swirling through her head? “Honestly, I wish I could talk to my dad right now,” she said. 

McClain wore her fathers initials “MM” on the back of her leotard while Jones had the date of her fathers passing in Roman numerals on her sleeve. McClain said she feels she and Jones are connected on this journey having both experienced the same loss. Finishing on the podium together makes it even more special. 

“We definitely check up on each other all the time,” McClain said. “Just being here and being #1  and #2 both Day 1 and Day 2 is just so nice because we’ve been through the same things and it’s been hard on the both of us.” 

Shilese Jones had the meet of her life Day 1 but struggled on beam in the first rotation and bars in the final rotation on Day 2. Jones was only trailing McClain by 5 tenths heading into the last event but a fall on her dismount resulted in a second place finish. Despite the mistakes, she feels good about where she’s at and her future for Team USA. 

“I’m a super strong contender and I’m just super excited to get back out here,” Jones said. “You know, two falls and in second place… It’s really only the beginning for me!”

Jones finished the meet in 2nd with a two-day total of 112.000, while also taking home gold on bars and floor. 

Jordan Chiles finished third with a two-day total of 111.900. In her first elite meet since the Tokyo Olympics, Chiles did not disappoint, showing consistency all across the board with a little bit of spunk. Chiles talked a lot throughout the weekend about wanting to be the “college gymnastics energy” to the Elite world. 

Jade Carey won the vault title, also in her first elite meet since Tokyo, while Leanne Wong grabbed the gold on bars. 

2022 U.S. National Team: Konnor McClain, Shilese Jones, Jordan Chiles, Kayla DiCello, Jade Carey, Lexi Zeiss, Elle Mueller & Skye Blakely!

Photos by Lloyd Smith for Inside Gymnastics

For more:

Madray Johnson Becomes Junior Champ

Balancing Act – Chiles, Carey & Wong Prove You Can Do Both

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