Kyla faced into this year off the back of a difficult 2015, with numerous uncharacteristic falls and errors marring her domestic competitive season. The news that she was not at the selection camp for worlds didn't come as much of a surprise as a result. Despite this, and her known injuries, it still comes as a shock that she's out of the running for Rio now at this point. I really thought she would attend at least Classics and Nationals to see where she was at. I've thought that she wasn't going to reappear strongly in elite before, only for her to showcase her usual crisp routines once more, so I gave up on giving up on her. I haven't hidden the fact that I'm not a big fan of her gymnastics - but I am a big fan of her and will miss seeing her this summer. It's a pity that her height has held her back in terms of upgrades and probably wasn't helpful in terms of her previous back injury. Still, a very illustrious career- Olympic champion and with numerous world medals up her sleeves. I'm looking forward to seeing her in UCLA.
Nia is only in her second year as a senior, but has had a most turbulent career so far with several injuries. Last year she was freshly back from injury. I was really looking forward to some upgrades and cleaned-up execution from her, and instead she has a devastating injury at the worst time. She'll miss the whole domestic season, and Rio as a result. Injury, injury, gym change, injury - I've been rooting for her for years and it's been depressing, as her physical status has definitely held her back from achieving her potential - her potential is and has always been HUGE. A sparkly gymnast with big height and big skills, super dynamic and exciting. Will miss her greatly this year and hope she can come back strong from this.
Another career that came to an end (albeit 2 months ago) is Lisa Verschueren of Belgium. She is not someone who I actively followed, although I did notice her in Glasgow, but how her career ended is more devastating than an injury because she doesn't have the option of coming back, and it wasn't her decision. To be that young and forced from competitive sport due to a heart condition really sucks. I know too much about cardiology for my own good from large amounts of time spent typing and googling terms, and I really hope her defibrillator is all she needs to be healthy and safe and it isn't anything very sinister. Thankfully she did have a longish career spanning several world championships, so there is that.
Speaking of Belgium, and on a more positive note, they have exciting talent coming through the ranks this year - particularly Nina Derwael. I LOVE this.
Not all skill videos (few I suppose) come to fruition but I really, really hope this does. Any release with a half turn is a complete winner in my book, and the Ezhova is one my favourite transitions. Fabulous.
Also on the positive balancing front, the McKayla Maroney video interview is coming out this week (Wednesday I believe although really Thursday for me as it's on west coast time) and I'm really looking forward to it. McKayla has always been great at speaking and she has a lot of gaps and information that we are largely in the dark about. Not to mention that it doesn't look like the kind of interview where she'll gloss over or bypass important stuff. Of course, she may well declare her retirement or imminent retirement in the video but by all accounts she's been out of the gym a good amount of time now so that wouldn't be shocking. Sad to put an end to a great career though.
The Olympic year really has its downsides with the impending sense of doom that there are many more names to come in the injury/retirement category. I'm just holding on for the season to start to ease the doom and gloom of it all.
What are your favourite routines of the two? I really love that beam of Kyla's, it had more than her usual as it was fuelled by fierce determination, taking place as it did after a bars meltdown. It's also her last elite competitive routine. Nia's floor showcases her strengths beautifully, love that unique third pass. How will this shake up Team USA and the coveted specialist spots?