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Martha Karolyi Breaks Down The P&G Gymnastics Championships And Road To Rio

By Brandon Penny | Aug. 12, 2015, 4:35 p.m. (ET)

Gabrby Douglas celebrates winning the gold medal with team coordinator Martha Karolyi after the artistic gymnastics women's individual all-around final at the London 2012 Olympic Games at North Greenwich Arena on Aug. 2, 2012 in London.

INDIANAPOLIS – As women’s national team coordinator, Martha Karolyi has assisted in the training and development of the past three Olympic all-around women’s gymnastics champions.

In addition to seeing the likes of Americans Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin and Gabby Douglas to gold medals, the 72-year-old women’s national team coordinator has led Team USA to four world team titles and an Olympic team title.

Karolyi is in Indianapolis this week for the 2015 P&G Gymnastics Championships, which will determine the men’s and women’s U.S. gymnastics champions and help Karolyi and a committee make decisions about which athletes will be on the 2015 world championship team.

The 2015 worlds are the last major international meet before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. They will also serve as Karolyi’s last worlds as women’s national team coordinator, as she announced last month she will step down after Rio.

As she prepares to watch a field that could very well include the next Olympic all-around champ, Karolyi spoke to members of the media about a variety of topics, including the return of Olympic champions Douglas and Aly Raisman, the Road to Rio and her retirement.

On whether 2012 Olympic and two-time world vault champion McKayla Maroney is still training for Rio…

I don’t think so. I just talked to Galina (Marinova, Maroney’s coach, at the Secret U.S. Classic last month). They said it still looks like she has some heart problems, so she was in and out of the gym. I feel like it would be very hard at this moment, if she is not included in a very regimented training, because it mostly will be like it happened in the last cycle with some of the girls.

On fresh faces to watch, who haven’t been to an Olympics or world championships…

Maggie Nichols is the biggest improvement in this quadrennium. In the beginning of the cycle, she was just an average, new elite, and every year she has been very serious, very committed, very dedicated, and I think at this moment she is showing world-class gymnastics with clean, technical work, and because of that it’s very consistent performances.

On the return of 2012 Olympic champions Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman…

Gabby and Aly are both in the right timing because they allowed themselves enough time to first physically get back in enough shape, then get back the shape, then try to make the adjustments with the new requirements, then get the competition experience. So I think their timing is good and I’m very happy for them.

On whether she thought Douglas would return to the sport…

I went to one of the (Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions) stops exactly here in Indianapolis (in November 2012), and I asked Gabby – you coming back, you will be back? And she said, ‘I definitely will.’ And that was just a few months after Olympics. It didn’t really surprise me. I didn’t know for sure it would be happening, but I know she made this statement to me. I think she likes what she’s doing and she’s lucky she has a nice, strong body for this sport, and I hope everything will go in the right direction.

On the remaining steps for Douglas to reach peak performance…

I think she’s on the right track. She is not there yet. We have some more steps to do. We will have to get the two-and-a-half vault back if we want to be competitive. We have to get a few more connections on bars, although it’s very good as is, but we can do a few more upgrades there. Everything is planned out and if it goes according to plan, she will be a good asset to the U.S. team.

On Aly Raisman…

Aly’s good. … She is very hard worker, very goal-oriented and determined. She wants to be good but she knows what it takes to make the commitment to do it. She is working on some extra connections on floor and her start value will go up to 6.7 for next year, so she is on the right track. She also has to, just like anybody else, make sure keeps the right training regimen to make sure she accomplishes this goal.

On working with Sr. Vice President of USA Gymnastics’ Women’s Program Rhonda Faehn, who was formerly the head coach at University of Florida…

I like the idea to have somebody as a leader for us who has a good, solid gymnastics background and she definitely has that. She has technical knowledge. She knows what it means to be a world-class gymnast. I enjoy exchanging ideas and talking with her and discussing with her. So far, I’m very glad to work together.

On the roadmap for solidifying routines between now and Rio…

For right now, we working on polishing these routines for world championships, then they will go a little bit down to rest their bodies and minds. Then, in December, we will have a training camp to give a good boost with skill work and that’s the time where they can give the last push for skills that were maybe in the works but not completely ready, so then they have to give that big push and by January they’re coming back with half routine shape and we will have some competitions to start to narrow down who are the top contenders. We have some international meets. And by that time, you have to have your routine ready.

On whether she is getting sentimental heading into her last year in her position…

I’m really not. I am just enjoying the moment. I really like this challenging atmosphere because it’s always a challenge. We always have to give a push to somebody, we always have to figure out a way out if somebody is having troubles and problems, and I don’t think it’s time for sentimental.

Related Athletes

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Gabrielle Douglas

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Aly Raisman

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McKayla Maroney

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Maggie Nichols

Artistic Gymnastics