Jade Carey: "I feel like I'm capable of more"

The Tokyo 2020 floor gold medallist is returning to elite training and competition after a successful freshman campaign with Oregon State.

By Scott Bregman
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Tokyo 2020 Olympic artistic gymnastics floor exercise champion Jade Carey can't believe she's already back in elite training.

"I thought after the Olympics I would be done and just go to college and enjoy it," Carey said at last month's NCAA Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth, Texas. Carey won the silver medal on the uneven bars there and finished fourth in the all-around. "But after the experience that I had, it made me want to go back. Because I feel like I'm capable of more."

Carey is also fueled by disappointment: a balance beam fall during the all-around finals and an unusual mistake in the vault final where she performed what would normally be a warm-up type turn in competition.

“Two things that really did it for me,” Carey said in an exclusive interview with Olympics.com in April, “finishing eighth in all-around finals with a fall on beam. After that moment, I was like, ‘Wow, I feel like I could be so much better than I was’ and then because I improved so much on bars and beam in such a short amount of time, and now I have a little extra time to get even better.

“And right after vault finals, when I messed up, I looked at my dad and I was like, ‘We're coming back here and we're doing this again,’” she said, referencing a mishap with her steps on her first attempt in the final. “So that would be my main reason, was vault. I just feel like… obviously, that mess up was devastating for me, and so I kind of just want that chance to redo that.”

Successful freshman campaign

Carey had a busy few weeks in April. After the NCAAs, 10 days later she attended her first U.S. national team camp since the Tokyo Olympics.

"I'm feeling good, so I figured like might as well just start now," Carey explained of the decision to go straight from NCAA season to national camp. "I don't feel like I need to be like right back where I was from the beginning. So I'm just going to take it slow and see how it goes."

She was strong in her first season as a member of the Oregon State women's gymnastics team, helping lift the team's overall ranking.

"I've always just really loved everything about Oregon State, especially the coaches. They've always been super supportive of everything that I want to do, and I think it's fun to be part of a team that isn't super big in gymnastics," said Carey. "It's like been really cool to watch my team get so much better this year, and I'm just really proud of how far we've come."

Individually, Carey was spectacular, spending much of the season as the top-ranked all-arounder in the NCAA, ahead of Tokyo 2020 all-around gold medallist Suni Lee. She scored three perfect 10s throughout the year and never dipped below the 9.800 range.

"It was really cool to see a 10 flash out because that's like the best that you can do in college gymnastics," said Carey. "So it was really special to see that go up and like, share that moment with all my teammates."

That 10 was also shared with her Olympic teammates with Carey, Lee, Grace McCallum and Jordan Chiles all notching their first perfect collegiate marks the same weekend.

"It was exciting because all of us Olympians got one in the same weekend and I was the last one," Carey said sheepishly. "I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I have to at this meet or else I'm going to break the streak.'"

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