Kyla Ross, the youngest member of the “Fierce Five” U.S. women’s gymnastics team that soared to gold at the 2012 Olympics, retired from elite competition on Monday rather than make a run at the 2016 Games.
“Deciding to retire from elite gymnastics has been one of the most difficult decisions I have made in my life, but I feel my time as an elite gymnast has come to an end,” said Ross, who joined the junior national squad in 2009. “I truly love the sport of gymnastics and I am so fortunate to have been able to accomplish my dreams with the help of USA Gymnastics and all of its staff. I would like to thank everyone for all of the amazing support I have received during my entire elite career. I would especially like to thank Martha (Karolyi) for pushing me to be the best gymnast I could be for the past eight years. Having the opportunity to represent the U.S. through gymnastics has been an experience I will always cherish. I hope to still inspire young gymnasts as I transition to collegiate gymnastics and this next chapter in my life.”
“We wish Kyla only the best as she moves into her next journey at UCLA,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “In the last four years, she has been an incredible representative for the United States on the international stage and a leader and mentor for her national teammates. We expect that she will duplicate that success on the collegiate level.”
Rhonda Faehn, senior vice president of women’s gymnastics for USA Gymnastics, said, “Elegance and beautiful lines are hallmarks of Kyla’s gymnastics, which earned her the 2013 Longines Prize for Elegance. Her gymnastics skills, bright smile and calm demeanor have won her fans around the world, as well as helped her teammates in training and competition. Kyla will be missed, but we understand and support her decision and will follow her success at UCLA and beyond.”
Martha Karolyi, the national team coordinator for the U.S. Women’s National Team, said, “During the eight years I have worked with her, Kyla not only was known for her work ethic and dedication, but also for her desire to reach perfection, which is an important component for a gymnast. The results of her hard work showed in her technique and excellent execution. Kyla will be greatly missed as a member of the U.S. Team.”
“Having coached Kyla for almost 12 years, we are so, so proud of her for all she has accomplished, every step of the way, to become the very successful person she is,” said Jenny and Howie Liang, head coaches at Gym-Max Gymnastics in Costa Mesa, Calif., who began coaching Ross when she was eight years old. “Being able to coach Kyla from winning local meets when she’s little, all the way to seeing Kyla grow into the strong, calm, disciplined and elegant World and Olympic gold medalist she has become, is a very special and memorable journey for all of us. Kyla continues to be a great role model for everyone here at the gym, proving that hard work and persistence is the foundation of success. We sincerely appreciate the support of USA Gymnastics, especially the staff of the Women’s National Team under the direction of Martha Karolyi, that has helped Kyla and Gym-Max reach our highest potential. We are very fond and proud of Kyla and will dedicate our efforts to support Kyla on the next part of her journey, collegiate gymnastics.”
Ross, who moved to the senior level in 2012, built an impressive national and international career. At the World Championships, she helped the USA to the team gold in 2014, and in 2013-14 brought home three silver (all-around, uneven bars and balance beam) and one bronze (all-around) individual medals. She has 10 senior Pacific Rim Championships medals: four gold (team, balance beam in 2012 and 2014); five silver (all-around, uneven bars, 2012 and 2014; floor exercise, 2014); and one bronze (floor, 2012). Ross has three senior U.S. titles (balance beam, 2013-14; uneven bars, 2013), as well as three U.S. silver medals (uneven bars, 2012; all-around, 2013-14) and one bronze (balance beam, 2015). At the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Gymnastics, she tied for first on the uneven bars and third on the balance beam.
Her junior accomplishments were: U.S. nationals – five gold (2009-10 all-around and balance beam; 2009 vault), three silver (2011 all-around, uneven bars, balance beam) and four bronze (2009-10 floor exercise; 2010-11 vault); Pan American Championships – six gold (2009-10 team, all-around; 2009 uneven bars, balance beam) and two silver (2009-10 floor); and 2010 Pac Rim Championships – two gold (team vault) and three silver (all-around, uneven bars, floor exercise). Ross also won the 2008 Junior Olympic Junior A all-around, balance beam and floor exercise gold medals and the vault silver.