Last week was a huge turning point in my life. I left St Louis early last week to head to the US National Championships, which served as the first of two qualification meets to make it onto the US Olympic Team. Unfortunately my competition didn’t go as I had hoped and I fell short of making the cut to get to the final process. There is no denying that it was disappointing but I can finally say that I did all that I could do to prepare mentally and physically. I left every ounce of strength and soul I had in me out on the competition floor that day.
I never believed it when retired gymnasts told me that they had to stop training because their bodies just couldn’t handle the beating of training anymore. It takes a lot of physical stress to be able to prepare and compete at the highest level. As I was preparing for the US Championships, I finally started to understand this. From being an all-arounder, I had to cut floor and vault to just focus on 4 events because my knee just couldn’t keep up with the stress anymore. Sadly, it never fully recovered from the ACL tear a couple of years ago. Other little injuries started coming up and it was just a constant battle with pain.
Even though I’ve always been the harshest critic to myself, I feel that I can finally give myself a pat on the back and say that I am proud. When you compete at such a high level, it’s easy to categorize success and failure based on whether you make it all the way to the Olympics or not. As my old teammate and former national team member has stated, “for every athlete who prevails on the highest stage, many thousands fall short. Sometimes the difference between them is not a matter of talent or effort.” It’s a given that the best athletes train hard…we all want “it”. Sometimes it just depends on the vagaries of time and circumstance.
Every single time I had a major injury that required surgery, I was told that my career would pretty much be over. However, I bounced back and came back stronger each and every time. When I broke my femur, I came back and competed at an international meet with the senior team. When I tore my bicep tendon, I came back and earned a position on the squad for the World Championships team. When I tore my ACL, I came back and made the Pan American Games team. This time around, all the injuries caught up to me and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. And although I couldn’t realize my biggest dream and join all of my heroes in the Promised Land of the Olympians, I have zero regrets for trying and putting up the fight. I could’ve thrown in the towel and retired a long time ago but I’m proud of myself for persevering until the end, and the satisfaction of giving it my all is comforting.
Despite how it ended, I would not exchange this experience for anything because I realized that the value was in fact in the journey. I’ve had some great opportunities – representing the U.S. at various international events and meeting so many amazing people. Many of these people will be my lifelong friends. I have a lot to be grateful for. To those that offered me even a couple words of encouragement, suggested a book to read, supported me mentally/physically throughout this long career – Thank You So Much!
My chapter as a gymnast ends now but here’s to the beginning of the rest of my life!
Thank you again!