Konnor McClain competes on Beam during Women’s Qualification at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics Championships on October 18, 2021 in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, Japan.
Konnor McClain’s long-established training plans were upended in August 2020 when gymnastics pushed back its minimum age requirement by a year for the postponed Olympics in Tokyo, suddenly making the West Virginia hotshot eligible for the Games three years earlier than expected.
After briefly trying out Tokyo, McClain took a step back to refocus on his original 2024 plan.
Now four months into 2022, the 17-year-old appears to be on the right track.
Her latest success came at the City of Jesolo Trophy, an early-season encounter in Italy where a who’s who of America’s top women shone before making the leap to the Olympic stage.
Competing in the northeastern Italian resort town, McClain led the USA women’s team to victory while taking first place in the all-around, balance beam and floor. Her teammate Zoe Miller also won the uneven bars to give the Americans five of a possible six medals in Jesolo.
Meanwhile, Shilese Jones won silver on bars and bronze on beam, and eMjae Frazier won silver on floor to round out a strong all-around performance from the United States.
Since 2008, the list of American gymnasts who have won the Jesolo all-around title includes Olympic medalists Shawn Johnson, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross, Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas and Sunisa Lee.
McClain has a long way to go to join this group, but she is off to a good start. After making her world championship debut last fall, she has already won the all-around at the Winter Cup in Texas and has led Team USA to victory at the DTB Pokal Cup in Germany so far this year. .
She was strong, though still in form early in the season, in the all-around final on Saturday, scoring 54.999 to hold off Italians Asia D’Amato (54.967) and Martina Maggio (54.200). All six American gymnasts finished in the top 10. McClain also won the junior title from Jesolo in 2019.
The top eight gymnasts in each event, with a maximum of two per country, qualified for Sunday’s final, and McClain shone there too. The gymnast who now trains in the Dallas area scored 13.900 on floor and 13.850 on balance beam en route to two more gold medals.
Miller, 16, of Spring, Texas, won the bars with help with a whopping 6.5 difficulty score for a total of 14.450 points. The second best D score in any event in Jesolo was McClain’s 6.1 in the beam final.
Miller’s bar score was .150 higher than silver medalist Jones, a 19-year-old from Auburn, Washington. Jones also scored 13.550 to win the bronze medal on balance beam.
The New Jersey native, Frazier, 18, who also made his world championship debut last year, scored 13.850 to take second place on floor.
The United States is coming off a team silver medal and five individual medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games last summer. As is often the case in the year following the Games, none of the American Olympians have competed at the elite level so far this season, although four of the six are active at the NCAA level and medalist Jade Carey 2020 floor exercise gold medalist currently competing for Oregon State, said she plans to return to the elite level.