U.S. artistic gymnast Jade Carey already knew that achieving her Olympic qualification dream would be different than she might have imagined it growing up.
In years past, the men and women representing Team USA in gymnastics have competed in a grueling series of events, culminating in a pressure packed Olympic trials. After deliberations among a selection committee, the athletes, overwhelmed by the emotion of achieving a lifelong dream, have been announced to sellout crowds with confetti and patriotic music.
While Carey would likely be included in any U.S. team announcement, she was aware that moment would be different for her.
“It will be crazy to already know,” Carey told Olympic Channel in January of what her mindset at the U.S. trials would be like, Olympic berth already in hand.
Her road to Tokyo
A floor and vault powerhouse, Carey owns three individual World silver medals on the events (2017, vault and floor; 2019, vault).
With her raw talent and explosive power, the Arizona-native decided to go her own way towards Tokyo 2020, choosing to attempt to earn a nominative berth to the Olympic Games through the International Gymnastics Federation’s (FIG) apparatus World Cup series.
That would mean her Olympic dream would be announced not with the typical fanfare just weeks before the Opening Ceremony but in a press release in April or May.
“I don’t really know how that will happen,” Carey said with a laugh. “I imagine it will be really exciting and I’m going to be really happy but I guess I don’t know until it happens.”
And that was before the global coronavirus pandemic upending the world, postponing many of the previously scheduled Olympic qualification events and the Games themselves to 2021.
After competing in three events in the 2019 season, Carey was all but assured a place at the Olympics. Even so, she decided to compete at February’s Melbourne World Cup as insurance. Her first place finishes on both vault and floor earned her a perfect series total.
Last week, her dream became, mathematically anyway, official.
Following an executive committee meeting, the FIG announced that the results from the qualifying round of the Baku World Cup would stand as the final results after the event was cancelled before the finals were held.
For Carey, who did not compete in Baku, that sealed the deal. No one will be able to pass her in the rankings when the World Cup series eventually resumes, and in a way even more unusual than she could have imagined weeks ago, Carey clinched her Olympic dream.