Three-time Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas has her sights set on the upcoming American Classic (April 27) –  her first competition since the 2016 Rio Olympics. 

The 2012 Olympic all-around champion planned to make her return at the Winter Cup on Feb. 24, but withdrew just days before the competition after testing positive for COVID-19. 

“Prior to the Winter Cup I was feeling very tired, very gassed,” Douglas told NBC Olympics. “I was like, ‘Why is my breathing restricted?’ I did a lot of resting after that … I was so sad I couldn’t be there and it was rough during that week, but I’m feeling great, back in training and going to be out on the floor soon.”

Douglas, who is aiming to compete in the all-around at the American Classic, will have qualification for the Xfinity U.S. Championships in the back of her mind; a necessary step if she hopes to pursue a spot on the U.S. Olympic team for Paris 2024. 

Since Douglas has not competed in nearly eight years, she needs to meet the score requirement at one of the two remaining classic competitions to qualify for the U.S. Championships, which would then set her up to qualify to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials (June 27-30).

After the American Classic, the final qualification opportunity would come May 18 at the Core Hydration Classic. 

Mounting a comeback

Douglas announced her comeback last July, citing her desire to find joy for the sport again. Although she never announced a retirement, she kept a relatively low profile, with no reports of her training following the Rio Games. 

When she returned to the gym in July of 2022, it was solely for herself; for her inner peace. 

"What I really want for myself is to take things one step at a time and go out on a note of joy,” Douglas said.

Douglas has been training at the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy (WOGA) in Texas, the same gym that produced Olympic gold medalists Carly Patterson (2004), Nastia Liukin (2008) and Madison Kocian (2016). 

In November 2023, she attended a U.S. national team camp for the first time since 2016 – a major step in her comeback journey, allowing her to show routines and get feedback from national team staff. 

US gymnast Gabrielle Douglas prepares to compete in the qualifying for the women's Beam event of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro
U.S. gymnast Gabrielle Douglas prepares to compete on beam in the qualifying round at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

Douglas had hoped to attend the April camp  — which would have been an opportunity to qualify for the U.S. Championships — but was not eligible per the guidelines released by USA Gymnastics. (According to the organization, all attendees had to be either current national team members, placed in the top 12 all-around at the Winter Cup and achieved the qualification score for the U.S. Championships, or medalists from the Tokyo Olympics.) 

“I was so sad that I couldn’t attend the April camp, but honestly, I’m looking forward to doing the American Classic and grateful to be back in the gym getting stronger, detailing the routines,” Douglas said. 

Douglas is attempting to add her name to an exclusive list of American gymnasts who have competed in three Olympic Games. Right now, that list only includes 1996 Olympic gold medalist Dominique Dawes – although Douglas’ Rio teammate, Simone Biles, is poised to add her name this summer. 

At age 28, Douglas can also become the oldest U.S. Olympic female gymnast since 1952, where five of the team members competing in Helsinki were aged 28 or older, according to

Coming back to the sport at her age is a testament to how the sport has evolved into a place where adult women not only participate, but succeed.

Douglas is upping her game, training several skills she has never competed before - including a new vault. 

“It starts with a C … that’s all I’m going to say,” Douglas teased, likely alluding to the Cheng vault, which was first performed by 2008 Olympic vault medalist Cheng Fei from China. 

Throughout her comeback journey, taking care of the mind and body have been essential for Douglas. Epsom salt baths, cryotherapy, meditation, and staying hydrated have become staples in her healthcare routine, ensuring she is able to train and ultimately compete at her best. 

She has also partnered with leading foot and skin care brand Dr. Scholl's, whose products help her feet recover from the demands of the sport. 

"You already know our feet go through it," Douglas said. "I'm honestly grateful to be partnered with Dr. Scholl's. They provide a lot for my feet. I use the Severe Cracked Heel Repair Restoring Balm because I do a lot of pounding, and the chalk dries out the skin, so Dr. Scholl's replenishes my feet." 

With her body and mind in the right place – and her passion for the sport rejuvenated – Douglas is certain that she will have no regrets with her comeback. 

“I want (the comeback) to scream that it doesn't matter what your age is or what your race is,” Douglas said. “If you truly love something and you work for your craft, your craft will work for you. Never limit yourself due to other people's limited expectations.”

Gabby Douglas poses next to a beam with Dr. Scholl's products
Ahead of her comeback, Gabby Douglas has partnered with leading foot and skin care brand Dr. Scholl’s to help her feet recover from the demands of the sport.

Dr. Scholl’s®

How to watch the 2024 American Classic

USA Gymnastics will stream the 2024 American Classic on its streaming service, FlipNow

The senior women's session, which will feature Douglas, along with 2020 Tokyo Olympic floor champion Jade Carey and 2023 world gold medalist Joscelyn Roberson, will begin at 2:45 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 27.