Kocian, Nichols finding form as Olympic selection gets underway
posted on 06/24/2016

© John Cheng

By Nick McCarvel

ST. LOUIS – The 2016 season has not gone how Maggie Nichols and Madison Kocian envisioned it would up to this point, but Friday night they continue their respective returns to competition at the P&G Gymnastics Championships following injuries.

In February, Kocian was put into a cast after suffering from a bone issue in her left foot, and Nichols underwent knee surgery in April.

With Olympic Trials looming in two weeks’ time, it’s a positive sign for two young gymnasts knocking on the door of a loaded U.S. women’s lineup.

“Everything is healed right now,” Kocian told reporters Wednesday. “I’m excited to be back out there. I did a couple of events at Secret Classic (three weeks ago) to compete again since that was my first meet of the year.”

Kocian will compete in all four events, though she may go light on her vault because she doesn’t feel “fully ready” there. Nichols, meanwhile, has said she is certain she’ll do bars and beam, though she’s considering doing all four events.

“I’m pretty close to 100 percent right now; probably 97,” Nichols said. “I’m feeling really good.”

Kocian, 19, was co-champion on the uneven bars at the World Championships last fall, while Nichols won bronze on floor routine.

It will be Nichols’ first event since the AT&T American Cup in early March. She said her five weeks out meant continued work in the gym, however.

“I’ve had to figure out my body a little bit more,” said the 18-year-old Minnesota native. “I’m getting older, so I can’t do as many repetitions. I’m doing what I need to do to get to myself ready for these meets.”

Both said they are training fully in the gym, and will look to continue to impress women’s national team coordinator Martha Karolyi, who has a tough task along with the rest of the selection committee to determine the pending Rio squad.

Simone Biles leads that charge, though it also includes reigning Olympic all around champion Gabby Douglas, 2012 Olympian Aly Raisman and a host of challengers.

“This weekend my goal is to be as consistent as I can,” said Kocian. “That’s really important for this summer – who you can count on. At the same time, you don’t want to just hit your routines, you want to be able to get that highest execution level that you can. I’ve been working really hard for that, especially on bars and beam.”

The women’s event begins Friday night at Chaifetz Arena and then wraps up Sunday. San Jose hosts Olympic Trials July 8 and 10.