Morgan Hurd probably can’t even count the hours she’s spent trying to perfect her craft or the amount of sweat that has gone into her gymnastics career. And that hard work and determination has almost always paid off.
This time, it didn’t.
Hurd was surprisingly left off the United States gymnastics team that will compete in the World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany on Oct. 4-14. Hurd won the all-around title at the Worlds two years ago and has been a mainstay of the U.S. team ever since – in many ways the new face of U.S. gymnastics — so it was assumed by most that the young woman from Middletown would be a shoo-in for the six-person team that will compete at Worlds.
Instead, Hurd was named to the non-traveling, alternates list, which is a nice way of saying she didn’t make the team. There are thousands of gymnasts who would be thrilled about making that list, but Hurd set her sights a lot higher a long time ago and this has to be disappointing, although hopefully not discouraging.
Why wasn’t she included? Good question.
During the team trials on Sunday, Hurd made mistakes on her floor routine and on the bars. Unusual for the typically steady gymnast.
But there is more to the selection process than that, and the U.S. selection committee – which, in case you care, consisted of Tom Forster, Tatiana Perskaia, Kayla Williams and Annie Heffernon, the vice president of women’s gymnastics, who did not have a vote – has to follow a complex formula that involved results in various national and international meets.
Also, as stated on the U.S. Gymnastics team website, the selection process also takes into consideration: consistency; the composite strength of all World team members, with consideration given for potential team, all-around, and individual event medals; world-class presentation; and readiness to compete.
So, that formula includes some things that are in black and white and it includes a lot of things that are gray and hazy. In other words, we don’t know exactly why Hurd was left off the team.
However, we should find out eventually. The team’s website, after listing all of those conditions, added this: “In accordance with the selection procedures, an independent observer attended the selection meeting, and a written report will be provided to the athletes, coaches and the general public.”
Hurd did not help her cause in her last couple of big meets, the Pan American Games and the U.S. Championships, or the recent two-day selection camp. She performed well at times and not so well at other times, and she even admitted before the Pan Am Games that she was nervous, and it showed when she went out onto the mat.
Six American gymnasts will travel to Germany. Five will compete, and one will serve as an alternate. The women who did make the team were Simone Biles, who automatically qualified by winning the all-around title at the recent selection camp, as well as Jade Carey, Kara Eaker, Sunisa Lee, Grace McCallum and MyKayla Skinner. Joining Hurd on the non-traveling alternates list was Leanne Wong.
So, like the rest of us, Hurd will watch the World Championships on television. But the bigger question now is how she’ll perform when it comes time to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. National and World titles are nice, but the real goal of any serious gymnast, and certainly Morgan Hurd, is the Olympics. She’s said more than once that winning an Olympics gold medal is her ultimate dream.
Before, it seemed a sure thing that Hurd would be on the U.S. Olympics team and have a chance to realize that dream.
Being left off the U.S.’s World Championship team shouldn’t impact that when it’s time to qualify for the Olympics. Still, for the first time, she’s been left behind and that has to hurt a competitive athlete like Hurd.
On the other hand, this could end up being beneficial. It gives Hurd a chance to sit back and regroup and refocus before the Olympics trials. She’ll certainly have extra motivation when she goes back on the mat for the most important performances of her life.