MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada, Oct. 8, 2017 – The U.S. women’s team success at these World Championships didn’t come with the wave of a wand, but it might have helped a bit.
After receiving congratulations from Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling for winning all-around gold, Morgan Hurd went out and won silver on the balance beam before Jade Carey won her own silver on the floor exercise.
Hurd and Carey, both newcomers to major international competitions, won all four of the U.S.’s women’s medals in Montreal.
Hurd’s pint-size stature continued to win admirers as the American teenager added a balance beam silver to her all-around title.
Even Olympic great Nadia Comaneci had fallen under the spell of the bespectacled 16-year-old.
“For being in her first big competition, it is an amazing accomplishment. She has such a bright and energetic personality, and she’s right at the age where she can compete at these events,” said Comaneci, who presented Hurd with her all-around gold in the same city where she scored a perfect 10 at the 1976 Olympic Games.
“She had no experience, nothing to show at this level before, and now when you look at her list of accomplishmentsk, it will read World Champion.”
Hurd’s all-around feat alone drew a tweet of congratulations from Rowling – Hurd’s favorite author – to make her week in Montreal unforgettable.
“The feeling out there,” said Hurd about what memories she would be taking home from her maiden Worlds. “I just feel so good out there. Winning and competing with so many gymnasts.
“And getting the tweet from J.K.”
Carey tweeted out video of Hurd receiving notification of Rowling’s ‘Congratulations Morgan!’ message following her win on Friday. There was even talk of fans taking a page out of Rowling’s books and throwing out socks in Hurd of support.
“It was incredible. I was getting treatment done, and I suddenly stopped and started balling,” Hurd said before revealing how the impact of her all-around victory took the morning after. “I woke up and started freaking out.”
All of the attention and messages of support did not sidetrack Hurd with another final to compete in on Sunday, when those rookie nerves reappeared.
“I was a little shaky, I was a little nervous going into it because my warmups were not the best,” said Hurd. “But I focused on staying in the moment, doing one skill at a time and just staying calm.”
She nailed her standing full to start, giving herself a boost to begin cleaner than in qualifying. There was a small waver on the aerial and check on the switch ring but her routine was strong.
A 0.100-point deduction for going over her time did not make the difference as she finished on 13.400 compared to Pauline Schaefer’s winning score of 13.533. Tabea Alt, Schaefer’s German teammate, won bronze with 13.300.
Meanwhile, Carey’s bid for floor gold came up short by the slimmest of margins as she scored 14.200 to lose out to Japan’s Mai Murakami’s winning routine of 14.233. Claudia Fragapane of Great Britain won bronze in 13.933.
Carey’s father and coach Brian extended his arms in celebration following her impressive showing, which looked as if it might be enough to add to Simone Biles three-straight World floor titles and give the U.S. a fourth in a row.
Unfortunately, it was not to be.
“I was a little bummed,” Carey said. “It felt really good, and I think I did my best floor routine ever.”
Despite the disappointment of missing out on gold, Carey certainly looked like she belonged at this level.
“I never would have thought I’d be here today but here I am,” the 17-year-old said after performing in front of a capacity 10,000 crowd at the Olympic Stadium, where she also won silver in vault. “I loved the loud crowd – it really got me going.”
National team coordinator Valeri Liukin was leaving Montreal surprised by the success of the women’s team, especially how it rallied despite losing Ragan Smith to injury.
“The girls matured with every minute,” said Liukin, looking ahead to the next worlds in Doha, Qatar. “Next year, they are going to be even better.”