By WILL GRAVES, AP Sports Reporter
U.S. Women’s Gymnastics High Performance Director Tom Forster resigns at the end of the year.
USA Gymnastics announced Wednesday night that Forster will step down on Dec. 31. Forster, who took over the program in June 2018, helped American women win gold at the 2018 and 2019 world championships and silver at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Forster said he was proud of what the program has accomplished during his tenure. He did not immediately respond to a text message from The Associated Press.
“My passion for the sport has always been working with coaches and athletes to bring out the best in everyone,” he said in a statement.
USA Gymnastics will soon begin searching for the next Program Director. Forster will attend the national team camp scheduled for January as a guest.
Forster took over one of the flagship programs of the US Olympic movement at a tumultuous time as he dealt with the fallout from the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal. He was the program’s third national team coordinator in less than two years. Martha Karolyi retired after the Rio Olympics in 2016 and Valeri Liukin, Karolyi’s replacement, resigned in February 2018.
The Americans maintained their status as the sport’s dominant force through major competitions in 2018 and 2019 thanks in large part to the brilliance of five-time world champion and 2016 Olympic champion Simone Biles.
US rule ended in Tokyo over the summer. The Russians outplayed the Americans in qualifying and then clinched their first team gold medal in nearly 30 years in the final, an event best remembered for Biles’ decision to retire from competition in due to a mental block that prevented him from performing his risky routines.
The United States, however, maintained its hold on the all-around title as Sunisa Lee edged out Rebeca Andrade of Brazil in the all-around final, becoming the fifth consecutive American to win the Olympic crown. Biles returned on the final day of competition to win bronze on balance beam and give her seven Olympic medals, tying the most ever won by an American gymnast.
Whoever takes over will find the women’s elite program in transition. Four members of the 2020 Olympic team – Lee, Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum and Jade Carey – will begin competing collegially in January. MyKayla Skinner, who won silver on vault, has retired and Biles is in no rush to decide if she will try to compete in the Paris Olympics in 2024.
Biles, one of hundreds of women abused by Nassar, a former national team doctor, has been a vocal critic of USA Gymnastics over the years.
“Wait until you realize the real problem with USAG isn’t Tom,” Biles tweeted Wednesday night.
USA Gymnastics has undergone a significant leadership overhaul in the five years since the first Nassar Survivors protest. The organization may be nearing the end of its long mediation with survivors. A large majority of survivors approved a proposed $425 million settlement with USA Gymnastics, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
A hearing to confirm the settlement is scheduled for next week in Indianapolis.
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