Gabby Douglas returns to gymnastics after 8 years and qualifies for US Championships

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Gabby Douglas returns to gymnastics after 8 years and qualifies for US Championships

Gabby Douglas is officially back.

Whether the gymnastics star’s return to the sport carries all the way to the Paris Olympics remains to be seen.

Douglas, who became the first Black woman to win the Olympic all-around title when she triumphed in London in 2012, competed for the first time in eight years on Saturday at the American Classic.

The 28-year-old looked rusty in spots and promising in others while posting a score of 50.65 in the all-around. Douglas qualified in multiple events for the U.S. Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, next month. She will get another chance to qualify for the all-around competition at nationals when she takes the floor at the U.S. Classic in Hartford, Connecticut, on May 18.

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Douglas last competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she helped the Americans claim a second straight gold in the team competition. She took an extended break from the sport but never officially retired. The itch to come back returned while watching the 2022 U.S. Championships, and she’s spent the better part of the last two years training in the Dallas area with an eye toward trying to make the five-woman U.S. team that will be heavily favored to win gold in Paris this summer.

Her comeback, however, has been shrouded in mystery. She was supposed to compete at the Winter Cup in February, but she pulled out just days before after testing positive for COVID-19. She has limited press exposure, and unlike 2020 Olympic gold medalists Sunisa Lee and Jade Carey, who competed at the American Classic, she opted not to participate in podium training on Friday.

Douglas walked out onto the floor about an hour before the competition and showed flashes of what turned her into a star in London. Her double-twisting Yurchenko on vault had plenty of amplitude, and on bars — her best event — she had the pieces of a routine that would certainly be competitive at the elite level.

The challenge will be finding a way to consistently combine all the pieces.

Douglas came off bars twice, and her floor routine lacked the crispness and endurance to compete with anyone hoping to make a serious bid for the Olympic team.

There is time for Douglas, but not much. The U.S. Classic is in three weeks. The U.S. Championships are in five, and the Olympic Trials will be held in Minneapolis in late June.

Carey, who won gold on floor exercise in Tokyo, captured the all-around with a score of 55.000 while also recording the top scores on vault and floor. Lee, who has dealt with kidney-related health issues for the last two years, put together a dazzling bars routine to win easily with a score of 15.200.

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