Aly Raisman was one of the breakout stars in gymnastics at the London 2012 Olympic Games, winning two gold medals and a bronze. Many gymnasts would have called it quits after such a spectacular career, but not someone as determined as this 20-year-old.
After four years on the elite scene, Aly Raisman took a break after her amazing Olympic Games and dabbled in other activities. But the Rio 2016 Olympic Games were always at the back of her mind.
“Training has been fun and exciting,” Aly told Full Twist contributor Anna Rose Johnson. “I never thought I’d still say that after so many years of being an elite gymnast. It is amazing what a year off can do. I look forward to the gym every day and it’s been fun learning new skills and putting back skills I had before.”
As she prepares to return to national team camps this fall, Aly has put together a very busy training program. “The summer schedule is Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. It is exhausting but nice to get the weekends off. I go to the cape with my family on the weekends. Laying on the beach and relaxing is the perfect rest and creates balance in my life,” Aly remarked.
Largely recognized for exquisite beam and floor work, Aly has always worked the all-around, finishing third at four consecutive national championships and placing fourth at the 2012 Olympics. She confirmed that she is currently training on all four events.
When Full Twist spoke to Aly in November 2013, she wasn’t quite ready to jump back into competition. “In November I was still doing basics and slowly getting back into skills,” said Aly. “Now I’m basically fully back on beam, just haven’t done routines, I do skills separately. I’m working on getting my releases back on bars. [I’m] slowly working on the two and a half on vault. [On] floor I’m working on adding a skill or two and tumbling separately.” Aly continues to train at Brestyan’s American Gymnastics with coaches Mihai and Sylvie Brestyan. She has been at their gym since she was ten years old.
Fans have been eagerly awaiting Aly’s next floor routine since she won the floor gold in London. She remarked that she hasn’t put together a new floor routine yet. “I’m sure that will be in the next month,” Aly explained. “This routine will be the routine I use for the next two years. Sylvie will choreograph it, just as she [did] all of my other ones.”
As she stated in our last interview with her, Aly had hoped to return to competition this summer. However, the U.S. women’s national team coordinator, Martha Karolyi, suggested that Aly wait a little longer to make her comeback.
“At first I was upset because I miss competing,” Aly explained. “My first reaction was trying not to cry. I was on the phone with Mihai; he had just finished discussing it with Martha and I was at the gym with Sylvie about to start practice. Sylvie and Mihai were both in agreement with Martha and said it was better to be patient and take my time. I want people to see improvement from London and if I were to compete this summer it wouldn’t be my absolute best. I am a perfectionist and I want people to see how hard I’ve been working. I hope when I come back people enjoy watching me and see the love and passion I have for the sport.”
Aly’s training has continued to progress and thrive with the time off from competition. “When I first came back last September, I was hoping that I would be back ready for January camp,” she commented. “It’s almost August and I’m still not ready for competition shape. I have a lot of my skills back but still not where I want to be. I am going back to training camp in October and I am of course nervous but so happy to be back at the ranch for the first time in two years. I’ve missed it! I am taking my comeback slow, making sure I work on my form and flexibility. I want people to see improvement from the Olympics, even on floor.”
As all gymnastics fans realize, new skills are essential in the comeback process. Aly told us she is working on a few new skills, but as she put it, “Most of my routines will stay the same with a few changes here and there. I am always open to trying new things, as long as the skill doesn’t scare me too much. Mihai and Sylvie are so creative and always thinking of ways I can improve and add something new. Sometimes they have a great idea, but I’m just way too afraid to try it! Sometimes they tease me and tell me I’m a ‘chicken’, which I totally am. Not going to lie! So we always work together to think of skills I’ll feel comfortable doing and something that I can learn quick and eventually compete well.”
When asked about her plans and goals for the coming months, Aly told us that she’s focusing on the October training camp. “I’ll leave the rest up to Mihai, Sylvie and Martha,” she continued. “I trust them with my life and they always have my best interest. They have a plan for me just as they did going into London so I will do whatever they say. I’m thankful to have such caring coaches in my life.”
Though she said she has “no clue” when her next competition will be, Aly knows for certain that her comeback will be an amazing experience. “I’m excited to compete with the girls. I don’t know most of them, but I hear nothing but great things from Mihai. I love having a team bond and competing for USA.”
“I’ll be at championships watching the girls and I can’t wait,” Aly said, when asked if there was anything she’d like to tell the Full Twist readers. “[It] will be awesome to see everyone.”
And of course, it will be awesome to see Aly Raisman back out on the competition floor. “I’m excited to wear a red, white and blue leotard and compete internationally.”
Special thanks to Aly for chatting with Full Twist, and for the assistance of her agent!
Image via Getti Images.