Saturday, 9 July 2016

Gabby Douglas makes last-minute coaching change before Olympic Trials

Two years ago, Gabby Douglas moved to Columbus, Ohio to train at Buckeye Gymnastics under the gym's director, Kittia Carpenter. Carpenter has been by Douglas' side through every competition since, from the 2015 World Championships last October, where Douglas earned an all-around silver medal, to the P&G Championships in late June. Carpenter has also been heavily featured on Douglas Family Gold, the Oxygen docu-series that has followed Douglas' journey to the Rio Olympics.

But after Douglas finished fifth at championships, she parted ways with Carpenter. On night one of the U.S. women's gymnastics Olympic Trials, Douglas' coach on the floor was Christian Gallardo.

Gallardo is also a coach at Buckeye Gymnastics.

This is not first coaching change for Douglas. Before the London Olympics, she moved from Virginia Beach to Iowa to train with Liang Chow, who guided Shawn Johnson to four medals at the 2008 Beijing Games. Douglas took time off from training after the Olympics, but returned to Chow's gym in May 2013. A few months later, she left to live with her family in Los Angeles and train on her own.

Then again in April 2014, Douglas and Chow reunited. It didn't last long this time either. In a 2014 ESPNW article, Douglas' agent Lowell Taub explained, “the business terms under which Chow wanted to work with Gabby moving forward toward Rio were not business terms Gabby felt were in her best interest." Douglas left again and eventually landed at Buckeye Gymnastics with Carpenter.

In the same article, Carpenter said that she didn't hesitate to take on the challenge of coaching such a high-profile gymnast. "I couldn't imagine telling any kid no, let alone an Olympic champion," Carpenter told ESPNW. "People thought I was crazy to accept that challenge, but I believe in my coaching and I believe in her. So I didn't have those doubts that other people seem to have."

Douglas explained this latest coaching change to Tim Daggett by saying she needed a coach who was physically capable of spotting her, and a gymnast is allowed only one coach on the floor at the Olympics.

Douglas' mother told Inside Gymnastics Magazine that Gallardo was chosen to be Douglas' primary coach based on their bond and chemistry.

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