There were a lot of memorable moments this season, but these are my (very personal) top-10 ones:
10. UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field published her first book, titled Life is Short, Don’t Wait to Dance, a book about life and gymnastics, full of tips for living life fully, of positive energy and inspirational quotes. The ideal Christmas present!
9. It was a fantastic year for the Finnegan sisters: LSU junior Sarah scored perfect 10.0s on bars, beam and floor and was named SEC Gymnast of the Year. LSU commit Aleah turned elite and had a great summer: she finished third on beam at the American Classic, seventh in the all around at the GK U.S. Classic and fourth on vault at the U.S. Championships.
8. Katelyn Ohashi‘s Michael Jackson-themed floor routine was my favourite routine of the 2018 season. It will never get old!
7. In January, Florida senior Alex McMurtry completed her first gym slam, after scoring a perfect 10.0 on her ‘weakest’ event, the balance beam.
6. At the National Championships semi-finals, Oklahoma sophomore Maggie Nichols completed her second gym slam, scoring a perfect 10.0 on bars, and was crowned national all around champion. This was also Maggie’s favourite moment of the 2018 season.
5. After a series of disappointing years, Georgia finished shy of qualifying to the Super Six Finals. The hero of the night was sophomore Sabrina Vega, who, under huge pressure, delivered a gigantic beam routine.
4. In April, Kentucky qualified to the National Championships for the first time in school history. There, sophomore Mollie Korth had a fantastic meet, including a stuck Yurchenko 1.5 on vault. A year to remember!
3. At the Super Six Final in April, UCLA senior Peng-Peng Lee scored two perfect 10.0s on bars and beam to lead the Bruins to win their seventh NCAA title. It was a magical moment, also fuelled by Kyla Ross on bars and beam, Madison Kocian on bars, Grace Glenn, Brielle Nguyen and Katelyn Ohashi on beam.
2. On 4 February, the UCLA v. Oklahoma meet at Pauley Pavilion was dedicated to the victims of sexual abuse. Survivors, including Oklahoma sophomore Maggie Nichols, UCLA alumnae Jamie Dantzscher, Jeanette Antolin and Mattie Larson and UCLA assistant coach Jordyn Wieber, were honoured at the end of the meet. There, all gymnasts wore identical t-shirts, bearing the slogan ‘Together We Rise’, as well as teal ribbons, the colour symbol of sexual abuse awareness. It was the most emotional meet of the season, an inspiration.
1. In January, after years of accusations and investigations, led by former gymnast and lawyer Rachael Denhollander, disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was finally found guilty of sexually abusing almost one hundred gymnasts and was sentenced to decades of imprisonment. Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols revealed that she was the so-called Athlete A, the number-one witness to the investigation, and thanks to her and many other gymnasts’ courage and determination, the former doctor was finally brought to justice. These women’s strength continues to be a huge source of inspiration for the future of gymnastics and of children, athletes and women’s rights.