MILWAUKEE – The fact that Morgan Hurd had a crisis of confidence was understandable. Even expected.
In 2017, she was the best gymnast in the whole world, with the title and the gold medal to prove it. Two years later, she was not even part of the American team.
“It was quite difficult. I was pretty devastated and disappointed with myself, ”said Hurd in January, before the first national team training camp.
There was embarrassment, of course. While American women have the deepest team in the world, Hurd has emerged as perhaps the best after Simone Biles. In addition to her all-around title, she won four other medals at the world championships in 2017 and 2018, and was a Biles finalist at the 2018 national championships. She seemed to be a gift for any world or Olympic team .
It also appears in All around, a documentary series from the Olympic channel that follows three hopefuls from Tokyo.
There was also a sense of shame, the feeling that Hurd had dropped his longtime trainer, Slava Glazunov.
And then there was fear.
The Tokyo Olympics were a year away and Hurd couldn’t help but worry about what the missing worlds would mean for the dream she had had since she started gymnastics. Literally. In the first class Hurd took, when she was 3, toys were placed on the beam and gymnasts were asked to catch them and make a wish.
“I have always wished:” I wish to go to the Olympic Games! I want to win the Olympic Games! “Remembers Hurd, from Middletown, in the Del.” I don’t know why I remember it so well. “
To think that it might not happen, after having seemed so close, was devastating.
“It was overwhelming. It was frustrating. It took us months, really, to become dignified again, ”said Glazunov. “She is better now.”
Some athletes react to a setback by withdrawing into themselves, letting disappointment consume them. But the best use it as fuel, the motivation to drive them to even greater heights. There is the infamous story that Michael Jordan was removed from his high school basketball team. Aaron Rodgers sliding into the NFL draft.
And it was the same with Hurd. There is an advantage to her gymnastics now, a feeling that something is at stake every time she is on the floor.
“I would not say (I am) angry. I would say (I have) a really fierce attitude, really aggressive,” she said Friday after training for the American Cup on Saturday World Cup.
It has been noticed. A judge commented on Hurd’s quality in training. National team coordinator Tom Forster said he was impressed with his improvement and noted that Hurd had placed second at the most recent training camp, behind Olympic champion Simone Biles.
“You have to prove yourself. We attack this daily newspaper, every week,” said Glazunov. “There is nothing to complain about. We have to go to work. “
The American Cup will be the biggest test to date of Hurd’s new determination. It was her first major competition since the world team selection camp, where she was overlooked due to an inconsistency. The results of the American Cup and three other World Cups are also used to determine which countries will obtain an additional place in Tokyo.
What Hurd does here won’t take him away from the Tokyo team. But it will remind people that she should be there.
“I have to prove that I still deserve an Olympic spot,” said Hurd.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armor on Twitter @nrarmour.