Inside Gymnastics Exclusive! Trinity Thomas Announces Elite Comeback, Eyes Paris 2024

Inside Gymnastics Exclusive! Trinity Thomas Announces Elite Comeback, Eyes Paris 2024

By Christy Sandmaier with Ashlee Buhler contributing

Trinity Thomas has made it official. And Paris 2024 is the goal.

The 2022 NCAA All-Around Champion, 34-time NCAA All-American, and NCAA Career 10.0 co-leader (28) for the University of Florida announced her Elite comeback exclusively with Inside Gymnastics this week.

“There is one more dream that I’ve always had,” Thomas said while seated center floor at the Gators’ training facility inside the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. “And it’s been cut short a couple of times. I’m glad that I get the opportunity to come back to Elite gymnastics with my eyes set on Paris 2024.”

Fresh off a whirlwind trip to L.A. where she attended the Collegiate Women Sports Awards presented by Honda as a nominee for the 2023 Honda Cup, Thomas, who also announced earlier this week she’d be pursuing a second master’s degree at Florida and will begin her role as a student-coach with the Gators for the 2024 season, told Inside Gymnastics that officially sharing the news had her heart racing.

“My heart is actually beating really fast because I’ve been dodging people’s questions for a while,” she said with a laugh. “So to be able to talk about it finally is super special!”

Returning to the Elite stage and striving for an Olympic dream has been a long time in the making for Thomas. Throughout her career, she has proven time and time again how to turn moments of adversity into moments of incredible triumph and rise to record-setting achievements in the sport. Ultimately it’s her resilience, mental strength and heart for gymnastics that shines through and has helped make the path to Paris possible for her. 

“It’s one more year. This is something I still love, something that I still want to do,” Thomas said. “I still have fuel in the tank and we’re going to find out how much, but I’m so excited and just can’t wait to continue my journey.”

Florida head coach Jenny Rowland, who has been at the helm throughout Thomas’ NCAA career is thrilled to see where the new journey takes her.

“It is impossible to put into words to adequately describe all that Trinity accomplished, impacted and just truly embraced during her Florida Gator career,” Rowland said. “Trinity is an exceptional talent who is also an outstanding person and example to her teammates and fans everywhere. She’s an inspiration to so many in the gymnastics community. We support Trinity in her return to Elite as she pursues her Olympic dreams. We’re extremely excited to be part of this journey with her and look forward to seeing what the future holds. We will support and cheer her on as she pursues her Elite goals.”


A phenomenal athlete, student, role model and ambassador for the sport, Thomas now joins a superbly decorated and growing list of NCAA athletes already simultaneously competing on the world stage or returning to Elite competition following the conclusion of their NCAA careers including 2020 Olympic All-Around Champion Suni Lee (USA/Auburn), 2020 Olympic floor champion Jade Carey (USA/Oregon State), 2020 Olympic team silver medalist Jordan Chiles (USA/UCLA), 2021 World Championship All-Around silver medalist Leanne Wong (USA/Florida), 2021 World Championship All-Around bronze medalist Kayla DiCello (USA/Florida), 2019 Pan American Games team gold medalist Aleah Finnegan (USA/Philippines/LSU), 2020 Olympic alternate Emma Malabuyo (USA/Philippines/UCLA), 2021 NCAA beam champion Luisa Blanco (USA/Colombia/Alabama) and 2023 NCAA co-National Runner-Up on vault, Lynnzee Brown (USA/Haiti/Denver). In so many ways, they’re continuing to redefine a competitive trajectory that doesn’t have to stop at a certain age, level or achievement.

For Thomas, this time around it’s a dream by design with a focus on health, pacing herself, trusting the process and embracing each step along the way. Because of that, she’s focusing on the big picture and noted she will most likely not compete in 2023 as she continues to regain full strength and work her way back.

“My biggest goal is to enjoy the process,” she said. “Obviously, the Olympics is at the end of the road, but you can’t get there without taking the first, second, third and all the steps before that. First and foremost is making sure that I’m healthy and happy and working hard and just taking it one step at a time. My first goal is just to get some of my skills back, play with some stuff and see what works and what doesn’t. [I’m] not the same gymnast [I was] five years ago. I’m not even the same gymnast I was a year ago!”

Thomas was a four-time member of the U.S. National Team from 2016-2020 who made her international debut at the City of Jesolo Trophy in 2017, winning gold with Team USA. She went on to capture team gold and a pair of silvers (All-Around and bars) at the 2018 Pan American Championships. In 2019 she made her debut as a Florida Gator while competing as an Elite and was on track to try for a spot on the 2020 Olympic team when a number of setbacks including injuries and the pandemic steered her towards a different path.

“My goal has always been to be able to compete at Olympic Trials and vie for a spot on the Olympic team. And in 2021, I was on track to do that,” Thomas said. “I was so excited and I ended up spraining my ankles and didn’t get the opportunity to even finish the NCAA season the way that I wanted to. It just wasn’t realistic for me to keep training. It was a big setback and I was definitely disappointed.”

True to her never-give-up nature, Thomas dug deep and rebounded beautifully. In 2022 she added the NCAA All-Around, bars and floor titles to her incredible resume of records set as Gator. And in many ways, she’d already done more than she ever could have dreamed of. Still, the opportunity to take a fifth year of collegiate eligibility allotted by the NCAA as a result of the pandemic was there and Thomas embraced the opportunity to don the orange and blue for one more year.

“[In 2022] I was able to come back and have a year of my life in college gymnastics. And I am so, so thankful and grateful for that,” Thomas said. “I learned so much throughout the process.”

Following an incredible start to her 2023 season, Thomas was on track to exceed the all-time Perfect 10 record when she sustained a lower leg injury during the 2023 Regional Semi Finals. Whether she would compete at all in Fort Worth at NCAAs captured the biggest headlines in the two weeks leading to the Championship. After initially not being listed on the start list for the Gators for National Semi Finals, Thomas brought in a beautiful set on bars and two rotations later, stepped up to the vault runway and soared. Two days later in Finals, on her final collegiate vault ever, she would go on to tie the record of 28 held by Jenny Hansen (Kentucky) and Jamie Dantzscher (UCLA). It was a curtain call fitting of a queen and a moment that transcended the sport forever in so many ways. 

Signed, sealed, delivered, Thomas could have put a cap on her career knowing she is truly one of the greatest athletes ever to compete on the NCAA stage. But there was one more dream. One more moment she wanted.

Eyes Set On Paris

With her NCAA career now complete, Thomas will pursue her Elite comeback with the same dedication, focus and heart she places on everything she does. Her success in 2022 and 2023 in particular, showed just how much believing in herself and having the right support system around her proved that a new chapter – and that going for her dream for 2024 – was still possible.  

Her perspective on her accomplishments thus far and what defines success are also evident as she looks ahead. 

“As an athlete, you’re going to have setbacks, there’s going to be ups and downs,” she said. “It’s not a straight road to whatever success looks like for you and those setbacks have taught me so much about myself, about life, about the journey and just finding joy in the process and not just the accomplishments at the end of the road. Within every setback I was able to learn something, grow from it and do better next time.”

As Thomas begins her new chapter it’s not surprising she’s chosen to have the Gators right by her side as the new daily grind and plan begins to take shape. Her teammates and coaches are family to her she said, and she draws much of her strength and joy from seeing them succeed.

“Being able to see them achieve their goals and reach their dreams is so special, too, because not everybody gets to see the behind the scenes, but we get to see each moment that we have together,” she said. “I think that’s what I’m looking forward to most – getting to be in here still with my teammates and being able to help them continue to reach their goals while I continue to reach mine.”

An incredible blend of strength, finesse, power and performance quality, Thomas’ own arsenal of skills includes one of the best double layouts on floor in the business and sky-high release moves on bars while displaying an incredible confidence and ability to hit under pressure on all four events. And while the NCAA to Elite routine construction is certain to take time to develop and test, she’s excited to see what she can accomplish.

“My coaches have sat down and started drafting out my routines, kind of like an easier version and then a harder version and we’ll keep changing things as we go, as I continue to work, and get my skills back and upgrades and all of that,” Thomas said. “So I’m excited for that process, too!”

In addition to her athletic, school and coaching commitments, which she admits will be a learning process as she figures out how to balance it all, Thomas is most excited to continue to be a role model for young athletes – a position she cherishes. Through her work with Quatro and LR Productions, she’ll have ample outreach opportunities to continue to make an impact beyond the competition floor.

“I’m partnered with Quatro,” she said. “I have my own leo line and there’s some new leos coming out soon! On top of that I’m partnered with LR Productions, and we’re going to have the Sparkle & Shine Invitational tour and I’m so excited for that as well. That’s another one of my dreams that honestly I would have never thought in a million years, but here we are! It’s another way to connect with all the gymnasts from all the generations. I hope that they are so excited – probably not as excited as I am because I’m through the roof!”

Inspiring the next generation is something Thomas remains focused on and her return to the Elite arena is certain to be a beautiful new page in her already legendary career no matter the end result. With the road to Paris as competitive as ever for Team USA – just this week USA Gymnastics announced that the 2023 U.S. Classic Roster included seven-time Olympic medalist and 2016 All-Around Champion Simone Biles – Thomas certainly has the ability to be a major factor in the lead-up to the Games and beyond.

She can’t help but smile and reflect at the thought.

“I think little me would be in awe of big Trinity. It’s so crazy how far I’ve come and how much I’ve grown over the years. I have exceeded all of my expectations and I’ve met so many of my goals as well. And so it would be just really cool to look back and be like, ‘Wow, I really did that!”

See behind the scenes footage from our interview with Trinity coming soon to Inside GymnasticsYouTube channel!

See more of our in-depth feature on Trinity in the August 2023 issue of Inside Gymnastics magazine, available soon in print and on our all-new digital app!

Inside Gymnastics video footage provided by Ashlee Buhler; competition footage courtesy of Gators Creative Video

Photos by Lloyd Smith for Inside Gymnastics

Coverage brought to you by Tumbl Trak and Quatro. Special thanks to LR Productions.

For More:

Biles and Lee Back for U.S. Classic

Lynnzee Brown Leads a Star-studded Lineup

Exclusive! Luisa Blanco to Compete for Colombia

Addison Fatta Is Hungry For More

All Eyes on Avery Neff

Pacific Reign Rising

New Gym, New Confidence – Joscelyn Roberson

From Tokyo to Salt Lake City – Grace McCallum

New fire, new focus for Yul Moldauer

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