Brenna Dowell Returns to Elite Gymnastics.


Brenna Dowell at the 2014 P&G National Championships. Photo by John Cheng via USA Gymnastics.

Brenna Dowell has some unfinished business to take care of. After finding herself the alternate on the World Championship team in 2013, Dowell trained towards 2014. However a round of injuries and setbacks left her just short of her goals once again, when she was named the non-traveling alternate for the 2014 World Championship team. Rather than continue to train towards future world teams and the 2016 Olympics, Dowell decided to retire as an elite gymnast and begin her college career.

Going from elite in October 2014 to NCAA in January of 2015, Dowell had a very successful freshman year at the University of Oklahoma. She was a regular in the lineup for the Sooners on VT, UB and FX. She ended the season as the 2015 runner up on floor, the Big-12 Floor champion and the Big-12 Newcomer of the Year.

According to SoonerSports.com, Oklahoma’s head coach K.J. Kindler announced this week that Dowell has decided to take a break from her NCAA career. She will defer for a year to return to elite gymnastics and chase her dreams for a place on the 2015 World Championship team.  “This decision was the toughest choice I have ever made,” Dowell said to Soonersports.com. “My family and I prayed about it a lot, and I just felt like I had some unfinished business in the elite world.”

Dowell is a strong all-around gymnast, and brings a high level of difficulty to vault and bars. With the additions of Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas, as well as new senior Bailie Key to an already intensely competitive elite environment, Dowell has her work cut out for her. But it is work that she seems ready to do in order to pursue her dreams.

“We know that this was a very difficult decision for Brenna, but at the end of the day it came down to chasing that dream,” Kindler said. “We want Brenna to have no regrets and that means pursuing this opportunity to compete for the United States at the highest level in this Olympic year. We will be cheering loud for her from Norman and will look forward to her return to Oklahoma in the fall of 2016.”

No word has been released yet as to when Dowell will return to national team training camps or compete for the first time in 2015. The 2015 World Gymnastics Championships are Oct. 23 to Nov. 1, in Glasgow, Scotland.