Junior National Title Wide Open – Bailie Key Out

The Junior National All-Around Title seemed to be as locked up as the senior title in this year’s upcoming P&G US National Championships. Since the start of 2013, Bailie Key has won every junior all-around competition she has competed in. Eight all-around titles, seven on international soil. Her current scores put her right in the mix with the senior all-around podium. And no junior competing this year looked to have a chance to catch her.

Bailie Key training at 2014 Pacific Rims. Photo by Ruth Judson

While training in July, Key noticed some elbow pain. She was immediately checked out, according to a post on the Texas Dreams website. The problem was severe enough to warrant surgery, however the procedure was a simple one and the recovery time was expected to be short. But as all gymnastics fans know, days out of the gym always take a toll. And for Key, another junior national title is not the goal. Her dreams are on the Road to Rio. The post goes on to explain:

Throughout the past couple weeks, it has been challenging to settle on our decision.  But in the end, with the 100% undeviating advice and support of those we trust and respect the most, together with Bailie, we decided it best that she forego this year’s Championships.  Letting her safety along with “big picture” goals guide us, it became an obvious decision, although not an easy one.

While sitting out of a competition is always hard for a gymnast, this is just a small bump in the road. Next year, the celebrated junior becomes a senior where her real challenges begin. Texas Dreams, we join with you in celebrating Key’s incredible junior career and looking forward to her senior debut. Let’s take a moment to watch her beautiful, mature new floor routine for 2014.

In the meantime, the junior national title is still up for grabs in this all important year for these juniors. All but one of the Fierce Five were still juniors in 2010, the same point in the Olympic cycle that we are at now. Aly Raisman was a first year senior, and took third in the senior division that year.  Jordyn Wieber, like Key, had to sit out due to injury. The other three Fierce Five members were in the top four of that competition.

Kyla Ross won her second consecutive junior national title, McKayla Maroney finished third and Gabby Douglas came in fourth. Not that a finish on the junior podium this year would guarantee a spot on the 2016 Olympic Team, but it is an incredibly important step for many of these juniors that are seeking to position themselves well. With the top three from 2013 out of this year;s junior competition (Laurie Hernandez, silver medalist is also out with injury and Amelia Hundley, bronze medalist, is now a senior), the door truly is wide open.



The Latest on Bailie Key

Current Junior National Champion Bailie Key of Texas Dreams will not be competing at the Secret US Classics this weekend. On July 23, coach Kim Zmeskal Burdette broke the news on twitter. “To best heal after a minor arm procedure, Bailie Key will bypass competing at the U.S.Classic.”

Bailie Key training at the 2014 Pacific Rim Championships. Photo by Ruth Judson

From all appearances, Key is ready to go and this is just a minor blip in her year. As she is already qualified to the P&G National Championships, and has competed twice this year internationally, missing this competition really isn’t a big deal. Most likely, Key would have liked to have a warm up meet before defending her title at nationals, but coming in fresh and healthy will benefit her more in the long run.

Key rose slowly in the junior ranks until last year, where she became the dominant US Junior. Not only is Key the current Junior National Champion in the US, she has won every international competition she has been in both in 2013 and in 2014. Unless any of the current juniors come out with a surprise performance this year, that is unlikely to change any time soon.

Key’s sweet smile, dependable performance, and beautiful gymnastics will be missed at Classics this year.  But it will give other juniors time to shine. And will lead us to appreciate her even more at the P&G National Championships.

Here is Key at the 2014 Pacific Rims. Her new floor routine is one of my very favorites this year!

And here she is at the May National Training Camp. She trains a double layout here, which would be a new addition to her floor routine if she puts it in this year.

Thanks To Ruth Judson for the great photos. Check out her work!