Gabby Douglas Had to Delay Her Long-Awaited Comeback Due to COVID

Gymnastics fans will have to wait a little bit longer to see Gabby Douglas make her long-awaited comeback: The Olympian announced on Instagram that she will be withdrawing from the 2024 Winter Cup on February 24 after testing positive for COVID-19.

“I’m so sad to say that I won’t be competing this weekend,” Douglas wrote in her post on February 22. “I was so excited to get back on the competition floor…I’m crushed, but I’ll see you guys soon!”

The Winter Cup—largely considered one of the earliest tune-ups for gymnasts eyeing the 2024 Paris Olympics—would have been Douglas’s first meet in nearly eight years; she last hit the mat during the 2016 Rio Games. In the years since, the three-time Olympic gold medalist has kept a low profile, posting in 2022 that she was “taking a step back from the socials” to work on herself and her mental health.

“I have carried a heavy weight on my back for quite some time and it has weighed me down, physically, mentally, and emotionally,” Douglas wrote in August of 2022. “I refuse to be defeated by this weight, I refuse to be hardened by this weight. I want to feel light and happy again.”

Almost one year later, she returned to Instagram, posting a photo of herself soaring in a split over the balance beam to announce her return to gymnastics. In her caption, Douglas said she spent the time journaling, reflecting, and soul-searching until she found herself back on the mat.

“For many years, I’ve had an ache in my heart, but I didn’t want to keep carrying anger, pain, sadness, or regret, and through my tears and hurt, I’ve found peace,” she wrote. “I wanted to find the joy again for the sport that I absolutely love doing. I know I have a huge task ahead of me and I am beyond grateful and excited to get back out on the floor.”

Over the last few months, Douglas shared a few photos and videos showing she was back at the gym training. But she didn’t reveal her specific plans until earlier this month, when she told NBC News that she was planning to participate in the 2024 Winter Cup in Louisville, Kentucky. While she was prepping for all four apparatuses—beam, floor, bars, and vault—she admitted she was paying “a little more” attention to her marquee event (the same one in which she earned the nickname “The Flying Squirrel” for her gravity-defying releases.)

According to NBC, Douglas was slated to be the oldest gymnast competing at the Winter Cup at the age of 28. She told Inside Gymnastics in January that she loves how the sport has evolved since her first Games in 2012—then it was more of a young girl’s game; now, lots of athletes are older, calmer, and more composed. “It just shows everyone that you don’t have to be 16 or 17 to keep going,” she said. “We’re going to push that boundary of age.”

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