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An Update On USA’s Maggie Nichols: Olympic Trials, NCAA and Inspirational Quotes

Maggie Nichols competes on beam. Photograph: Silvia Vatteroni Maggie Nichols , 19, from Little Canada, Minnesota, is a world champi...

Maggie Nichols competes on beam. Photograph: Silvia Vatteroni

Maggie Nichols, 19, from Little Canada, Minnesota, is a world champion with the team in 2015, as well as the bronze medallist on floor.

2015 was Nichols’ best year as an elite gymnast, and she seemed a favourite to make the Olympic team in summer 2016. In April 2016, while training the Amanar vault, she tore her meniscus and needed surgery. She got back on time for P&G Championships and Olympic Trials, but her gymnastics was not as sparkling as the previous year, and she failed to make the Olympic team, even as an alternate.

This year Nichols will begin her NCAA career as a University of Oklahoma freshman. Her new team counts to rely on her a lot.

Nichols was recently interviewed by Inside Gymnastics.

Asked about NCAA gymnastics, Nichols said that training is as hard as elite training, because it is very difficult to always try to be perfect. ‘I think it is very hard also trying to perfect every single turn, and you’re trying to get as strong as you possibly can, getting up at like 5:30 to do conditioning and then going to school, and then going back to practice. It’s harder in a different way.’

She is however very excited to compete as a team. ‘I’m really looking forward to competing as a team,’ said Nichols, ‘and having my team cheering for me and also trying to help the team win another national championship, and just having fun while I’m out there.’

Nichols grew immensely during her elite career, from a fifth place at the P&G Championships in 2013 to a world class athlete in 2015. What brought about such change? ‘I think it’s because I really took a step back and looked at all of my goals that I wanted to achieve in the future, and I really figured out what I needed to do both mentally and physically to achieve my goals,’ explained Nichols. ‘And I think I just got a lot stronger [when I was] competing, which helped me go further in my career.’

She recalled a few of her favourite memories of her elite career: ‘making my first national team, and then traveling internationally with the team, I think [those were] great memories. And also winning the [2015] World Championships with my team was just a huge honour and I think one of the best moments of my life thus far.’

Her greatest honour, however, was making all the way through to the Olympic Trials in summer 2016. ‘Being able to go to Olympic Trials and represent the U.S. was just a huge honour to even be there, and seeing the Olympic Trials signs everywhere I went was [also] a huge honour, [it was] all the hard work just paying off. And being able to compete with the girls that went to the Olympics was amazing, and it was a great experience,’ said Nichols.

After the Trials, she was given the opportunity to train at the Károlyi’s Ranch alongside the other Olympians, but she turned the offer down, in order to rest and allow her body to recover for her first NCAA season. And besides, explained Nichols, ‘someone would have had to get hurt for me to be an alternate, and so we decided it was best for me to go back and get healthy for college and it was the best option for me.’

Nichols is also famous among her ‘gymternet’ fans for the inspirational quotes she frequently posts on social networks. ‘I think being positive all the time would help me [during my elite career],’ argued Nichols. ‘Because if I’m going through a hard time, I can look at positive quotes, [and look] at the positive of a situation, and it probably makes me stronger in the long run. So I was being positive and helping others stay positive, and it helped me get past some hard times and made me a stronger person.’

By Talitha Ilacqua

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