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Konnor McClain, rising U.S. gymnast, focuses on 2024 Olympic cycle

Konnor McClain

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - AUGUST 11: Konnor McClain competes on floor exercise during the Women’s Junior competition of the 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships at the Sprint Center on August 11, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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Konnor McClain, a U.S. gymnast who would not have been old enough for an Olympics in 2020 but became age-eligible when the Tokyo Games were postponed to 2021, will not compete in the national championships or the Olympic Trials this month.

McClain, who recently changed gyms to move from West Virginia to WOGA in Texas, is focusing on the next Olympic cycle, possibly beginning with the world championships in October in Japan, her mom said Wednesday, confirming an Inside Gymnastics report.

“We’re just trying to get her back on track. It has been a long year,” Lorinda McClain said. “This wasn’t our initial goal anyway to do Trials or Olympics this year. So we just thought that would be best physically and mentally to withdraw her and focus more on the future and what our initial path was.

“We say the best is yet to come.”

McClain, who turned 16 on Feb. 1, won the U.S. junior all-around silver medal in 2019. Gymnasts can’t compete in major senior international meets until the year they turn 16, so she would have been too young for the Tokyo Games had they been held in 2020.

McClain learned the Olympics were postponed in March 2020, this making her age-eligible for Tokyo, while watching “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”

“Just to make it to the Olympic Trials would be such an accomplishment, especially for her being young,” her mom said in April 2020. “We were working for 2024, so this kind of threw a wrench in our spokes.”

At least one woman who turned 16 or younger in the Olympic year made the last 10 U.S. Olympic teams. That includes Kyla Ross, the 2011 U.S. junior all-around silver medalist who made the 2012 Olympic team. And Laurie Hernandez, the 2015 U.S. junior all-around champion who made the 2016 Olympic team.

The 2019 U.S. junior all-around champion, Kayla DiCello, turned 16 on Jan. 25, 2020, and would have been eligible for an Olympics in 2020. That made McClain the highest-ranked, first-year U.S. senior woman in 2021.

McClain was born in Nevada. She began walking the balance beam and doing backbend kickovers before age 2, mimicking her 4-year-old sister.

The family moved to West Virginia when McClain was 3. She was featured on Steve Harvey‘s “Little Big Shots” at age 11 in 2016, proclaiming she was set on the 2024 Olympic all-around title. She then performed a balance beam routine in front of a studio audience.

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