In 2012, Kyla Ross was the youngest member of the Olympic gold-medal winning gymnastics team, the Fierce Five. From 2013 to 2015, she grew to became a veteran, as well as the leader and mentor of the U.S. team, the hardest worker in training and a great example for the other girls, according to Márta Károlyi.

After a rough season in 2015, in February 2016 Ross announced her retirement from elite gymnastics, and her commitment to NCAA gymnastics team UCLA. Ross was the only member of the Fierce Five not to turn pro before the 2012 Olympics, and is therefore still eligible to compete in college gymnastics.

In less than two months, Kyla Ross is starting her first season as a UCLA freshman. FloGymnastics has recently interviewed her regarding her NCAA expectations, her elite gymnastics memories and her post-elite life.

Ross arrived at UCLA last August, and she and her teammates have since been working hard to get ready for the beginning of the 2017 season, starting in January 2017. ‘Pre-season has been quite an adjustment from elite gymnastics,’ explained Ross. ‘The training style is very different. We are not in the gym as much, but we definitely do a lot of cardio and weights and stuff outside of the gym too, so it’s like an overall combination of training in- and outside of the gym.’

This type of training, Kyla explained, is necessary to prepare the women for the NCAA season, which is 16-week long. ‘This was probably the biggest adjustment from elite to college gymnastics,’ Ross said. In elite, indeed, gymnasts do not usually compete more than ten times per year, and certainly not sixteen weeks in a row.

Ross, however, is excited about the long season ahead of her: ‘It’s going to be fun to compete every weekend in front of my family and friends and everyone here at campus.’

Ross has been training all four events every day in practice, and hopes to compete in the all around this season. ‘I’m trying to compete all around here and there,’ she said. But ‘I think bars and beam are still going to be the two strongest events for me.’

Ross is also training a new vault, which took her fans by surprise. ‘I’m training the half-on piked front vault, explained Ross. ‘I’m enjoying the vault, because I’ve been doing Yurchenko vault all my life, so it’s something new and different.’

Kyla Ross competes on beam. Photograph: Silvia Vatteroni

Ross decided to transition from elite to college when she was still training for the 2016 Olympics.

But when she did retire, she had time to reflect on her past career and her future ahead of her. 
‘[W]hen I did retire, I had time to take the year to self-reflect,’ explained Ross. ‘I think it was very good for me, and I was able to have all those experiences that I didn’t necessarily have when I was training all those hours in the gym before.’

In these past months, Ross changed her routines to fit college requirements, but she also spent some more time with her friends outside of the gym. This summer, moreover, she worked as a coach in several summer camps. ‘It was fun to see all the little kids and spend the summer that way,’ she said.

Retiring just a few months after the Olympics taught Ross some important life lessons: ‘Everything in life doesn’t always go exactly as planned,’ she reflected. ‘There are always obstacles and challenges along the way, but you have to adapt. And overall…it was a decision I was willing to make, and I thought a lot about [it]. And of course I regret nothing, and it’s been fun this year. And now I’m here at UCLA, enjoying every day.’

Being part of such an energetic and charismatic team, Ross’s poised personality has been challenged as well: ‘I’ve noticed that in the few months I’ve been here the energy of all the girls have brought me out of my shell,’ she said. ‘I think it was something I really needed to experience…It’s so much fun here!,’ laughed Ross.

For those of you feeling that Kyla lacked some personality during her elite career, be ready to be surprised!

By Talitha Ilacqua


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WOGymnastikA is a blog turned website which brings you the latest updates on women’s artistic gymnastics as well as exclusive interviews with your favorite gymnasts. If you are interested in joining our team, please contact us on wogymnastika@gmail.com .

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