Middletown’s Morgan Hurd Keeps Her Eye on the Olympic Prize

Middletown’s Morgan Hurd’s performance at the Pan American Gamers in Lima, Peru contributed to the team’s gold medal. 

Almost every week, it seems, Morgan Hurd takes another big step toward her ultimate goal of winning an Olympics Gold Medal (or two or three or four…).

In April, she wowed judges at the Tokyo World Cup, becoming the 2019 women’s all-around champion. Two weeks ago, it was the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, where the gymnast from Middletown didn’t perform as well as she would have liked. This week, it’s the United States Championships in Kansas City. And, eventually, she will return to Tokyo, site of the 2020 summer Olympics Games.

Along the way, Hurd has become a media darling and one of the fresh, new faces of American gymnastics.

Simone Biles (gold) and Morgan Hurd (bronze) celebrate after competing during Women’s All-Around Final at the 2018 FIG Artistic Gymnastics Championships in November, 2018 in Doha, Qatar.

Hurd, who trains at First State Gymnastics in Newark, won a Gold Medal at the Pan Am Games as a member of the winning U.S. team. But she made a couple of errors in a couple of events. And even though she rallied with two solid performances, she failed to qualify for the all-around competition.

Hurd, who won the world all-around championship in 2017, finished fourth at the Pan Am Games and each country is allowed just two qualifiers for the all-around finals. She finished behind U.S. teammates Riley McCusker and Kara Eaker.

 

“Nerves are always there and I was definitely a little nervy,” Hurd told Reuters New Service. “I do prefer to start first on beam, but the first event is already shaky because you have a bunch of adrenalin going.

“The last two events I still wasn’t at my best,” she added. “I knew I could do better and that is just something to work on.”

She hopes the fruits of her work pay off at Nationals, which runs from Aug. 8 to Aug. 11. And to show how far Hurd has come in the world of gymnastics and become one of the faces of the sport, the home page for the U.S. Championships website features pictures of her and men’s star Sam Mikulak.

Morgan trains at First State Gymnastics in Middletown. Morgan Hurd’s Instagram page.

Another sign that Hurd’s star has definitely risen – the five-time World medalist is featured in an Olympics Channel documentary which was released today, called All Around, along with fellow gymnasts Angelina Melnikova of Russia and Chen Yile of China.

The documentary, which will air at www.olympicchannel.com, follows the three young gymnasts around as they practice and prepare for competitions. And it also shows some behind-the-scenes stuff that help to remind us that these are real people and not just world-class athletes who perform feats most of us can only dream about.

 

The commentators who introduce the three athletes in episode 1 tell us, “Morgan Hurd is the whole package, winning the all-around Gold medal in 2017… These gymnasts have been training their whole lives. There are no words to describe this level of excellence.”

In scenes from the trailer and first episode, Hurd talks about her Olympic ambitions and about her sport in general.

“Gymnastics mean everything to me,” she said. “Gymnastics is my whole identity. From the age of three, all I could think about was going to the Olympics. The anticipation just keeps building up. 2020 is my ultimate goal.”

Videographers take us to Hurd’s hometown, flashing a huge “Middletown, Delaware, USA” across the screen before taking us into her bedroom where the sound of an alarm clock beeps before dawn.

The early riser hugs her mom goodbye before heading off to the gym. She says she’s typically the only one there in the wee hours of the morning – except for the person First State Gymnastics has hired to unlock the door for their biggest star.

The Olympic Channel’s “All Around” features three Olympic hopefuls, including Delaware’s Morgan Hurd

Scenes with Hurd’s coach Slava Glazounov reveals some of his student’s personality. “She has that perkiness in her. She can joke and tease you back,” he says. The endless hours of practice don’t phase Hurd, who shows affection for her friends at the gym but also reveals her competitive nature. “I have this goal, and I’ll literally do anything to achieve it,” she said. “An Olympic gold medal around my neck, that’s all I can dream about.”


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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.