Participating in Simone Biles’s ‘Gold Over America Tour’ might have been just what the doctor ordered for Morgan Hurd.
The 2017 global all-around champion tweeted on Sunday night, a day after the final event in Boston, “[I] have never been more grateful to be a part of something.” The 20-year-old and her fellow gymnastic superstars have just finished a remarkable 32-city U.S. tour with the central message of the importance of prioritising mental health.
When Hurd first declared her candidature for the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, it was 16 months before she ever stepped foot on a tour bus. After failing to qualify for the 2019 World Championships, she rebounded with a dominant, decisive victory at the 2020 American Cup in March.
But suddenly the full scope of the COVID-19 outbreak became apparent. As the world mourned the delay of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, operations ceased.
The former world champion struggled throughout the extra year. After initially needing surgery on his elbow in August 2020, Hurd ended up needing it twice by March 2021. This meant that time was running out for him to recover in time to compete in the Olympic trials.
“That was a Pretty Difficult Period.”
This cascade of misfortunes severely curtailed Hurd’s ability to practise, and as a result, she was unable to participate in the Winter Cup Challenge in February, as well as several subsequent national team camps. Both at the U.S. Classic at the end of May and the U.S. Championships two weeks later in early June, she competed in two events.
The U.S. nationals were not a success for her, as she fell off the balance beam many times on both days and had subpar floor routines. She tried to get into the U.S. Olympic trials by petition but was turned down.
I don’t even think it was purely physical. She went on to say, “I believe it was extremely mental, and I just kind of stopped believing myself entirely and even believing that I could get to where I wanted to be.” “And then I started becoming nervous during gymnastics, and it was difficult for me to train in the months leading up to [the U.S.] championships and everything because I always felt like I was running out of time.
Justin Ah Chow, a fellow gymnast and a friend, called her to give her something to focus on. A junior on the men’s gymnastics team at Ohio State, Ah Chow, invited Hurd to spend the next week in Florida with him and some pals.
“It’s the evening of Day 2 of the U.S. Championships, and I’m sobbing in my hotel. Two hours after the competition, I get a call from [Justin], who asks, “Hey, do you want to go to Florida next weekend with me and some of my friends?” Reflecting, Hurd said. As in, ‘Sure, why not?’ I still need to cry, but it’s okay.
In an interview, Hurd described the trip as a nice distraction because it was her first non-gymnastics-related vacation since 2016.
The five-time world medalist says she still hoped to compete at the highest level of gymnastics despite her heartbreak and following distractions caused by travel.