U.S. Morgan Hurd, 16, who has verbally committed to the University of Florida for the 2019-20 season is the new World all around champion. Hurd captured the all around crown on Friday night, 6 October 2017, in Montreal, Canada. She won ahead of home-crowd favourite Ellie Black of Canada and Russia’s first-year senior Elena Eremina.
The night began dramatically for team USA, when the other U.S. gymnast in the competion, Ragan Smith, 17, injured her ankle on vault during warmups and was forced to withdraw from the competition. Smith, who was an alternate to the 2016 Rio Olympic team and is an Oklahoma commit for the 2018-19 season, was the favourite to clinch the all around title and to continue the USA’s impressive streak of victories in the all around.
Her absence meant that all pressure was on Morgan Hurd’s young shoulders. Hurd, a first-year senior who trains at First State Gymnastics with Slava Glazounov, was still recovering from an injury this summer, when she competed at the U.S. Classic and at the P&G National Championships and did not live up to her full potential there. At the U.S. Classic, she won silver on floor and tied for sixth place on the balance beam. At the P&G Championships, she was fifth on beam, sixth in the all around and eighth on the uneven bars. Coming into the World Championships, Hurd also had very little international experience. Internationally, she competed only at the 2017 Jesolo Trophy, where she won gold with the team and was tenth in the all around, and at the 2017 Stuttgart World Cup, where she won bronze in the all around. Hurd herself did not allow herself to dream to win a World all around title. In an interview at the U.S. Classic, she stated her main goal for the season was to make the World Championships team.
Hurd had to put all her doubts and inexperience behind her back on Friday night, when she was left alone to carry on the impressive U.S. legacy. Between Worlds and Olympics, the USA does not lose an all around title since 2010, when Russia’s Aliya Mustafina became the last non-American gymnast to win the all around title. Hurd started off her competition on vault, where she scored a good 14.533 for a high double-twisting Yurchenko with just a hop back. She then moved to bars, where she hit her routine for a 14.300. On bars, she performed some very intricate work, including an in-bar full pirouette to Tkatchev, a Ricna to Pak salto and a toe-on toe-off full pirouette into full-twisting double back dismount. On balance beam, she fought her nerves, and despite some wobbles, she survived her routine, posting a 12.666. Her routine included a very difficult back somersault with full twist and a super difficult full-twisting double tuck dismount off the beam. Ranked second going into the last rotation, Hurd kept her composure and delivered a beautiful floor routine, which was a beautiful combination of grace and expressiveness, and very hard tumbling passes. She competed a double double (Silivas), a full-twisting double pike, a front layout to front double twist – much improved from qualifications, where she had had a fall – and an almost stuck double pike for an excellent 13.733. Hurd won the all around title with a total score of 55.232, just one tenth ahead of Canada’s Ellie Black (55.132). Elena Eremina was third with a 54.799.
Morgan Hurd is now the seventh consecutive U.S. female gymnast to win a World or Olympic all around title. She follows in the steps of Jordyn Wieber (2011), Gabby Douglas (2012) and Simone Biles (2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016).
In a post-competition interview, a very excited Morgan Hurd told journalists that her unexpected victory was a surreal experience for her. The occasion was even more special, she added, as it happened in the venue where Romania’s legendary gymnast Nadia Comaneci scored the first even perfect 10.0 in gymnastics history at the 1976 Olympics. Comaneci, Hurd explained, is her idol, to the point that in third grade in school she did a project and dressed up like her!
Praise and congratulations came from all around the gymternet. 2012 and 2016 Olympic champion Aly Raisman tweeted: ‘WOWOOOOOOW MORGAN!!!!!!! SO PROUD. @morgihurd YOU GO GIRL!!!!!’. 2016 Olympic champion Madison Kocian also tweeted: So exciting to see @morgihurd become an AA world champ today.[C]ongrats girl!!❤’. 2005 World all around champion Chellsie Memmel wrote: ‘WOW!!! Congratulations Morgan! Welcome to the club miss World All Around Champion! Go USA!! 🇺🇸🇺🇸@morgihurd’. And 2008 Olympic all around champion Nastia Liukin tweeted: ‘I’M CRYING!!!!! WORLD ALL AROUND CHAMPION!!!!! @morgihurd I am so proud of you!!!!!!!’. She was not the only one!
The best tweet, however, possibly came from Uncle Tim, who asked writer J.K. Rowling on Twitter to give a shout-out to Morgan, who is a huge Harry Potter fan (and who actually looked like a Beauxbatons student in her beautiful light blue leo!):
A huge Harry Potter fan named @morgihurd just became a World Champion in gymnastics.
Any chance you can congratulate her?’
Please, Mrs Rowling?