Jade Carey: Refocused, Reloading

By Christy Sandmaier

“…I’m excited to see how much more I can learn with this extra year!” – Jade Carey

With her spot mathematically cliched for Tokyo, new motivation and new training partner Riley McCusker alongside in her Arizona gym, and a refreshed mindset, Jade Carey’s confidence is exactly where it needs to be one (more) year out from Tokyo. 

We first met Carey in 2017, where she won vault and placed second on floor at the U.S. Championships. She went on to win silver on vault and floor at the Montreal Worlds, becoming a primetime player for Team USA in the process. She’s never looked back. Savoring success on the individual World Cup route, she also won silver on vault again at Worlds in Stuttgart in 2019, placing second only to Simone Biles.  

In April, amid the global quarantine and with all future World Cup events in limbo until the unforeseeable future, Carey learned her spot to the Olympics was secure, amassing an Olympic-qualifying point total that could not be passed. Whether she accepts that individual spot or tries for a place on the four-member team, remains to be seen. 

She loves the challenge of gymnastics she says, and will use that love to help motivate her through this next year as she focuses on more upgrades. Admittedly emotional about the decision to postpone the Games, and also having to defer her chance to compete for Oregon State this fall, Carey still plans to compete for the Beavers once her new road to the Olympic Games is complete. 

Whichever direction that road heads, remains to be written.

Now that you have returned to a full training schedule, how long would you estimate it will take to get back into competition shape?

It normally takes me about three months to be fully competition ready. I am in off season training mode for now until we have dates for my next meet.

FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships | Oct2019 | Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle Arena, Stuttgart, Germany | Photo: Ricardo Bufolin / Panamerica Press

Mathematically, you’ve clinched a spot to compete for Team USA in Tokyo! Describe your emotions. Does it seem real? 

I was so excited to hear that I’ve mathematically qualified. I’ve worked really hard and I’m glad it’s all paying off. It doesn’t seem real yet. I think when the series is completely over it will be able to sink in a bit more!

Had you planned on competing in Olympic Trials (and the events leading up to Trials) even with the spot secured? Or, was that something still to be determined as you decide to pursue a team spot or take the individual place?

I am planning on still competing at Trials as another preparation meet and to show that I am all-around ready.

With the Olympics postponed to 2021, what is your training mindset now, knowing it’s another year away? Does it change anything?

It was difficult at first hearing the Olympics have been postponed. I agree with the decision for the safety of everyone but it’s tough having to mentally reset and know I have to keep going an extra year. I’m doing a lot better now and I’m excited to see how much more I can learn with this extra year!

Jumping back just a bit, when and why did you and your coach determine you would pursue the individual World Cup route to try and secure a spot for Team USA?

My Dad and I decided to pursue the individual World Cup route in 2018. I wasn’t totally ready in the all-around yet and it made sense for me to do the series and just continue to train all-around. I’m happy I still trained all four events because with the individual spot, I can still compete all-around.

What does the extra year do for your timing as far as competing for Oregon State? Have you been in touch with the coaches about a new plan?

I’m sad I won’t be able to be up in Oregon this year but I’ve been in touch with the coaches a lot and they’ve been great helping me set a new plan. I’m going to start some classes so that I will have some classes done before I get there.

What has having Riley come into your gym been like? Is it extra motivating to have a new training partner?

I love having Riley in the gym! We really push each other to be better and help each other in every way we can. It’s nice to have a training partner that knows exactly what you’re going through.

You mentioned during a video interview with MyKayla Skinner you thought changing the age-eligibility requirement for the Olympics wasn’t necessarily fair. A few years ago, many gymnasts on the U.S. National Team wouldn’t have felt comfortable speaking out on any issues. Do you feel there’s a culture change going on within the program that allows you to speak more freely now? 

I was never a part of the “old culture” but I feel like us athletes now are feeling pretty comfortable speaking freely and voicing our opinions.

Jade Carey, USA

Carey’s Quick Hits!

Favorite Event: Vault

Favorite Skill(s): Moors on floor

Gymnast You Look Up To: Nastia Liukin

Favorite Competition: 2017 Worlds in Montreal

3 Words that best describe you: Determined, motivated, good friend


Look for the full interview with Jade Carey in an upcoming issue of Inside Gymnastics! Click Here!

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Photos by Lloyd Smith, Ricardo Bufolin and Grace Chiu