Delaware’s Morgan Hurd Triumphs at World Gymnastics Championships

It’s an exaggeration, but not much of one, to say that Morgan Hurd’s medals weigh more than she does. And that small frame, of course, is a big part of her charm.

The biggest part, however, is that she’s one of the best gymnasts in the world. And the fact that she comes from little ol’ Delaware makes the story even better, simply because not many world-class athletes come from the First State, and certainly not in an international sport like gymnastics.

Hurd practices at First State Gymnastics, Middletown

In case you’re late to the party – Hurd was born in Wuzhou City, China, in 2001 and adopted by Sherri Hurd of Middletown when she was 11 months old. She was just 3 when her mother enrolled her in gymnastics and Morgan had an immediate love and talent for the sport and, even more importantly, the willingness to put in the hard work necessary to excel at it.

 

She started training at First State Gymnastics under the guidance of coaches Slava Glazounov and Cleo Washington and she quickly became a rising star in the gymnastics universe — last year, she won the all-around world championship and a silver medal on the balance beam, and then, just last week, she won a silver medal in floor exercise, a bronze medal in all-around and a gold medal as part of the United States team that won the top prize. That’s a heck of a triple crown.

And Hurd has captured the hearts of gymnastics fans and even non-gymnastics fans. We don’t want to get too cute here, especially when we’re talking about a world-class athlete, but it’s almost impossible not to when you see the 4-foot-6 Hurd perform and see her light-up-the-room smile. And the exclamation point to all of that are those glasses she wears, even when she competes. Maybe it’s not politically correct to say this, but she’s as cute as a button.

But when you hear her talk – actually, she bubbles more than talks – it’s easy to remember that, despite all of her accomplishments, she’s still just a normal, 17-year-old who likes to do the things that most teenagers like to do.

Hurd’s chance to win Olympic Gold

However, in a couple of years she’ll have a chance to do what very few teenagers get to do, and even fewer Delawareans – win an Olympics gold medal. That’s been a dream of hers for years, but at first it was admittedly a far-fetched one. Almost all premier athletes in Olympics sports dream of standing on the top tier of the Olympics medals platform and hearing their country’s national anthem players, but for most of them that’s all it is – a dream.

By the way, only six athletes from Delaware have ever won an Olympics gold medal and two of them have dubious ties to the First State. Frank Shakespeare won a gold in rowing in 1952, Dionna Harris won in softball in 1996, Mike Neill won in baseball in 2000 and Elena Delle Donne won in women’s basketball in 2016, and she’s got an excellent shot to win a second gold in 2020.

 

The other two were born or lived in Delaware, but apparently didn’t spend much time in the First State – George Dole in wrestling in 1908 and Aldis Berzins in men’s volleyball in 1984.

World record holder Simone Biles is tough competition

It won’t be easy for Hurd to join their ranks, of course, mainly because she’ll be competing against U.S. teammate Simone Biles, one of the most dominant women gymnasts in history – last week, she became the first woman in 30 years to win a medal in all six events at a world championship, including a record fourth all-around title.

Still, Hurd has a legitimate shot, and in all of sports there is no more prestigious award than an Olympics gold medal – not a Super Bowl ring or World Series trophy or even a World Cup championship in soccer, the most popular sport on the planet.

Now, after shining at the World Championships two years in a row, Morgan Hurd’s golden dreams are very much a possibility.


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About the Contributor

Kevin Noonan

Kevin Noonan

Kevin Noonan has covered and commented on the Delaware sports scene for more than 30 years, everything from amateur recreation leagues and high schools to local colleges and the Philadelphia professional teams. He’s been voted Delaware Sportswriter of the Year multiple times and currently covers the Philadelphia Eagles for CBSSports.com and teaches creative writing courses at Wilmington University.

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