The world will have to wait a little longer to see U.S. gymnast Laurie Hernandez back up on the balance beam.
Olympic gold medallist Hernandez, 19, told Olympic Channel in January that she was open to participating in international artistic gymnastics events during the North American spring, such as the Jesolo Trophy and Gymnix Invitational, but was most likely focusing on a trio of domestic events that kick off in late May, the U.S. Classic, U.S. Championships and U.S. Olympic Trials for Tokyo 2020.
That focus appears unchanged, as USA Gymnastics announced Wednesday (26 Feb) the 30 women set to participate in next week's national team training camp in Indianapolis without Hernandez.
"Laurie and her coaches have declined her invitation to participate in the February National Team training camp as she will be focusing her training on the second phase of the year, from May through August," said Tom Forster, the U.S. women's high performance team coordinator. "The February camp is a selection for international meets in March and April, which Laurie will not participate in."
"She is invited to the April National Team camp and plans to attend." - Tom Forster, U.S. women's high performance team coordinator.
'I think the timeline is perfect'
The 19-year-old resumed full-time training toward the end of 2018, moving across the U.S. from her New Jersey home to Los Angeles to work with Jenny Zhang and Howie Liang, coaches of 2012 Olympic champion Kyla Ross.
Returning to her Rio 2016 Olympic gold and silver medal-winning form hasn’t been easy and she has yet to make a competitive appearance. Hernandez describes the process as similar to having lifted weights for years, then suddenly stopping.
“You can't just lift up a 200 pound weight, you're gonna pull something,” she told Olympic Channel in January. “Your arm is going to fall off. You have to go back down to five and then go back to seven and then go up to ten and then just keep working your way up.
“So coming back and just conditioning for months, that was awful,” she said with a laugh. “Nobody likes that.”
Despite the multitude of training videos Hernandez shares with her fans via Instagram and Twitter, her competitive absence has been the subject of much debate, especially among fans online.
That's something Hernandez is not only aware of, but that she relishes.
“Another fun thing for me is like watching people freak out because they think I'm coming back too late,” Hernandez said.
“I know a lot of people are kind of panicking because it's a late comeback. But for me, like this is my story. This is just how it worked out, and I think the timeline is perfect.”