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She Makes It Official: Chellsie Memmel’s Comeback To Gymnastics Is A Go

By Chrös McDougall | Aug. 01, 2020, 10:45 a.m. (ET)

Chellsie Memmel competes on the floor during the Senior Women's competition at the Visa Gymnastics Championships on Aug. 18, 2011 in St Paul, Minnesota.

Chellsie Memmel competes on the floor during the Senior Women's competition at the Visa Gymnastics Championships on Aug. 18, 2011 in St Paul, Minnesota. 

An Olympian and former world champion gymnast is officially coming back to the sport — more than a decade after both feats.

Chellsie Memmel, 32, who claimed the 2005 world all-around title and then helped Team USA win a silver medal at the Olympic Games Beijing 2008, announced Friday that she is officially returning to he sport, presumably to make a run for next summer’s Olympics in Tokyo.

“Well, I guess it’s time to admit this is a comeback,” she tells her dad and longtime coach Andy in the video.

Memmel, of Dousman, Wisconsin, last competed in 2012 in the buildup to the London Games. However, the six-time world medalist, coach, brevet judge and now mother of two small children has been sharing videos of her performing gymnastics skills for several months.

The videos, dubbed “Chellsie Challenge,” began just for fun, she said, a way to help motivate others while getting in shape herself. However, since beginning in 2018 the videos evolved as she started re-learning some of her old skills — and fans couldn’t help but notice that some of the Olympian’s skills were looking really good.

Over the past several months Memmel never ruled out the possibility of a comeback, should her body hold up. That comeback became official with her latest video, published Friday.

So can a 32-year-old gymnast who hasn’t competed in eight years actually make a U.S. Olympic gymnastics team?

It’s not out of the realm of possibility. That’s because a new format for the Tokyo Games will have just four-person teams, but also the possibility for up to two individual gymnasts per country. Memmel would be an unlikely choice for the team, where countries will be looking to string together four all-around superstars — something the U.S. has no shortage of at the moment.

Jade Carey, a four-time world medalist, is presumed to be the holder of one of the U.S. individual spots after meeting the mathematical qualifying criteria via the world cup series, though that series was suspended due to the coronavirus and plans have not yet been announced to complete it.

That could leave one more spot for next summer’s postponed Games, and if so, U.S. officials would likely look to fill it with a gymnast who shows medal potential on one of the apparatuses.

So if Memmel can do just that in, say, uneven bars, the event she won at the 2003 world championships and finished second on in 2005, she might just have a chance to make another Olympic Games.

Chrös McDougall

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

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Chellsie Memmel