Photo courtesy of AP News
Chellsie Memmel Eyeing Gymnastics Comeback
After almost a decade away from competition, Chellsie Memmel - former Olympian and mother of two - is training for an Olympic comeback.
The 32 year old, crowned world champion in 2005, has leotards older than some of the women she will be training with. Nonetheless, she says her body is “stronger now than it’s ever been”, and she has even managed to impress USA Gymnastics Team Coordinator, Tom Forster.
“She looks like the Chellsie Memmel we knew,” Forster said. "It's remarkable. You know, her confidence level I think is different because she’s much more mature and she just has a lot more life behind her to know how to train, how to not take things so seriously and give herself a break. She seems to be training smarter.”
Though Chellsie has spent most of the last decade dedicating her time to other things - marriage, motherhood, coaching, judging, and helping to run the gym her family owns in New Berlin, Wisconsin - when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Chellsie found herself with some extra time on her hands and an empty gym. Now what started as playing around with regaining some skills, has become serious training to compete at the highest level of a sport that has evolved since her retirement in 2012.
“While it's not uncommon for international gymnasts to compete into their mid-20s and beyond — the seemingly ageless 45-year-old Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan will compete in her eighth Olympics this summer — it's much harder in the United States, where the talent pool is the world's deepest.” writes Will Graves for AP News. The Olympics are not the point though.
For a mother who is demonstrating to her kids that when you put your mind to something, anything is possible, striving for these new goals is not a “Tokyo or Bust” situation. “I’m not doing it for anybody else,” she said. “I’m doing it for me. And even with what I’ve done already, I feel like I’ve accomplished so much. I feel like I’ve already won.”
Chellsie “wants to emphasize something. This is not about ego nor unfinished business nor fending off some sort of early-onset midlife crisis”. Even Chellsie’s father and lifelong coach was supportive yet skeptical at first. He wanted to make sure that if she was going to do this, it was going to be done properly. As apparent as it became to her father, it is becoming to the rest of the world as well - Chellsie is doing this for the discipline, and for rediscovering her love and joy for the sport.
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