American gymnastics | Getting to Know Konnor McClain

© John Cheng

At just 17 years old, Konnor McClain, a four-time member of the United States Women’s National Team, is a rising star in the sport of gymnastics and one of the leading candidates to represent the United States at the Paris Olympics in 2024. With less than two years to go The Olympic team is named, the 2021 World Championships team member continues to raise the bar and push herself to be a top competitor with ever-increasing results. more impressive.

Over the years, McClain’s profile has been raised with a string of memorable appearances in addition to championship results. McClain wowed audiences with his balance beam routine on Steve Harvey’s Little Big Shots show when he was 11 years old. Last summer, she returned to the screen as one of five Olympic hopefuls in the docuseries Peacock Golden: The Journey of USA’s Elite Gymnasts, produced by Lebron James’ company UNINTERRUPTED.

Golden provided viewers with insight into McClain’s training during his first year of senior competition, establishing him as a gymnast to watch ahead of the 2024 Olympics. He also showcased the special relationship McClain shares with his siblings, Cole, Olivia, and Deuce.

Competitiveness seems to be a recurring theme in the McClain house. Each of the four children are current or former athletes. Although the pursuit of their dreams has taken them in different directions, they still regularly lean on each other for support.

“We all live in different states and play different sports, McClain said, noting that she and her siblings “always watch each other’s games and competitions. more supportive than I have ever met.”

From the grill to the softball field, the McClain siblings are active in the sports landscape, and the star gymnast is no exception. Prior to being selected to Team USA, McClain was an impressive swimmer and a member of her local swim team.

Although she loved the water, McClain quickly decided to focus on a sport and put her energy into becoming an elite athlete. Since taking up gymnastics, McClain hasn’t stopped impressing.

© Allison Cheng

As a junior, she was crowned United States Champion on balance beam in 2018 and successfully defended her title the following year by winning silver in all-around, vault and uneven bars.

At the 2019 City of Jesolo Trophy in Italy, McClain won gold in the all-around and vault – her favorite apparatus – and earned bronze on bars and floor exercise. The following March, McClain was selected to compete at the 2020 Gymnix International in Montreal, Canada, where she won gold in every event, captured silver in the all-around, and led her team to the title.

Last summer, McClain moved to WOGA Gymnastics in Plano, Texas, just months before the 2021 World Championships in Kitakyushu, Japan, where she made her senior international debut. The experience stayed with her and serves as a constant motivation.

“It was just such a crazy experience and so different from all the other competitions,” she explained. “Step into the arena, it just feels different. Once you’ve competed in it, it gives you so much confidence for your next competition.”

So far in 2022, McClain has excelled on the national and international stages. She won the all-around and beam titles and shared the floor exercise bronze medal at the Winter Cup in late February.

“I [hadn’t] been a full competition for so long. I was just trying to get back out there and see how it was,” she said.

A few weeks later, McClain traveled to the 2022 DTB Pokal Cup in Stuttgart, Germany, winning gold on beam and silver on floor. She returned to Jesolo in April where she won four more gold medals – all-around, team, beam and floor – for her expanding trophy box.

©Filippo Tomasi

“Coming into Jesolo, I trained all these weeks. Week after week I was in competition, then in camp, then in another competition, so I feel like I’m really prepared and confident for this competition.”

Finding the podium at world events is only part of the fun for McClain; she also looks forward to the atmosphere on the competition floor.

“Meeting all the gymnasts from different countries is so much fun. Then just hanging out with the team, having the team environment and just bonding,” she said.

Excelling in competition and making her mark in the world of gymnastics aren’t the only goals McClain has set for herself.

“I want to be a firefighter after my gymnastics career,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to help others but it’s also interesting because of the adrenaline, running through fire.”

While still a gymnast, McClain tries to carve out time outside of training to indulge in her hobbies.

“I write. I’m trying to write a book right now. I also like to paint and draw,” she said.

Few people can claim to have been an elite athlete, public servant and author in their lifetime, but McClain isn’t shy about taking on challenges and isn’t afraid to set big goals for himself. inside and outside the gymnasium. She knows what she brings to the table and how to stay focused on the things ahead.

Although it’s a few years away, McClain is already eager to break into the college scene after verbally committing to LSU last summer.

“I’m so excited, I can’t wait!” she exclaimed.

With so many friends and fellow national team members now occupying this space, McClain hears all about the different atmospheres and challenges that come with sport in a college environment.

“I’ve been in the elite for so many years, so it will definitely be a change,” she said.

McClain still has a lot to accomplish in elite gymnastics before joining the Tigers, starting this week with the OOFOS USA Gymnastics Championships.

Knowing what it takes to make a World Championship team, McClain hopes to make a statement this weekend and plans to debut with improved skills in Tampa.

“On the bars I’m anticipating improvements. And I love my new floor routine, I just got it this year and it’s really fun for me to do,” she said.

His main goals at the national championships are to make the 2022-23 national team and finish top of the standings.

As for his top priority once the competition ends on Sunday? Enjoy a very relaxing and well deserved day on a Tampa beach.

After that, the push for the Paris 2024 Olympics continues.

McClain will be in action today and Sunday at Amalie Arena for the 2022 OOFOS USA Gymnastics Championships in Tampa, Florida. The Senior Women’s Day 1 competition will air live on The Olympic Channel and Peacock at 7 p.m. ET. A recording of the first session will be available Saturday at 3 p.m. ET on CNBC. NBC and Peacock will broadcast Sunday’s senior women’s session live at 7 p.m. ET.

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