By Marlen Garcia
INDIANAPOLIS – The youngest member of the Fierce Five from the London Games never left the gym.
Sure, there were celebrity appearances to make after helping the USA win its first Olympic team gold since 1996, including a trip to the White House, but Kyla Ross didn’t want or need a break from competing.
“I was really excited after London to get back in the gym and train hard,” Ross, 18, said Wednesday after podium training for the P&G Championships at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. She is the two-time defending national champion on balance beam and two-time runner-up in all-around behind Simone Biles.
In the last two years, Ross has also piled up world medals: There was a team gold and bronze in all-around last year in China and silver medals in all-around, uneven bars and balance beam in Belgium in 2013.
She displays elegance on bars and beam that has become a bit rare in the sport because of the emphasis on power. But that artistry is sought and rewarded by international judges. U.S. women’s national team coordinator Martha Karolyi has called Ross a classic gymnast.
An eagerness to impress Karolyi hasn’t waned for Ross. The P&G meet weighs heavily in Karolyi’s selection of the world championship team that will head to Scotland in October.
“I am a really strong and consistent gymnast,” Ross said. “I know that Martha is really looking for a team that can hit all of the events in any situation so I know that’s really important for her to see.
“I know that bars and beam are going to be my key for the world championship team but I really want to hit a strong all-around, too.”
Her routine on uneven bars features new moves, she said, including a Pak full, more connections and another move she said was too difficult to pronounce, but fans will not see them all this week. She struggled with the routine at the Secret U.S. Classic last month and is still working to get it just right.
“It’s not the start value that I’m hoping for but it’s a little bit higher than last year,” Ross said.
“It’s not as hard as I’m capable of. But I really just want to hit a strong routine in this competition. Hopefully, I can work on adding up my start value a little bit before world championships.”