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The Core Hydration Classic 2024 made history even before raising its curtains. The event will be the first time in history that a gymnastics competition will witness three Olympic all-around gold medalists face each other. Gabby Douglas (2012), Simone Biles (2016), and Suni Lee (2021) will set out to further their legacy in elite gymnastics. Among these veterans, the meet is especially crucial for Gabby Douglas, who is on her way to bringing back her golden era after a long hiatus.

But before jumping into such a show of gymnastics, Gabby Douglas faced difficulties on her journey to the venue for a reason beyond her control. In her latest IG story, Douglas displayed a worried face, giving out the reason that kept her thinking about the rest of her journey to Hartford. Her flight from Dallas to Hartford, a journey of some 1600 miles, got canceled because of a tornado.

She informed, “flight got cancelled and now stuck in dallas [emoji] help!!!!!” Tensions are already flying in the air, given the importance of the meet. The 2024 Core Hydration Classic starts the process of crafting the 2024 Olympic Team for the USA. It is the final opportunity for the elite artistic gymnasts to qualify for the 2024 Xfinity U.S. Championships from May 30-June 2 in Fort Worth, Texas. But was she able to fly out?

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It was reported that the 28-year-old gymnast’s mother called her agent to arrange for a seat on a private jet. She was lucky enough to get one and arrived in Hartford on Friday for her training session. At the championships, the selection committee will choose the National Team roster that will compete at the Olympic Trials June 27-30 in Minneapolis. Understandably, For Gabby, the 2024 Core Hydration can serve as a prelude to what she might face in the upcoming Paris Olympics. However, for Douglas, arriving at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut was an uphill battle altogether.

Oh, my goodness. It was a whole thing. [My flight] got pushed from 7 to 9 to 11 to cancelled,” she stated, giving details about her strife at the Dallas airport. “We go to the desk and she’s like, ‘Well, there’s nothing until Saturday like noon.’ I was like, ‘I’m going to miss the podium.” But she was able to arrive in the ‘Constitution State’ on time with the help of a private jet of her mother’s acquaintance. Now, as Douglas reached the XL Center in just a nick of time, she is all set to assert a staunch competition to her compatriots.

To make the competition top-notch, Tokyo Olympic floor champion and 2022 World Championships vault gold medalist Jade Carey is coming off of wins in the all-around and on the floor at the American Classic on April 27 as she returns to elite form. Alongside, six-time World Championships medalist Shilese Jones, three-time World medalist Leanne Wong, and Olympic and World medalist Jordan Chiles are all set to make their 2024 elite debuts in Hartford.

If these are not enough, world team champions Joscelyn Roberson, Lexi Zeiss Kayla DiCello, and Pan Am floor and team champion Kaliya Lincoln will also be there for a wholesome competition. Taking all these together, it is safe to say that almost all the big names from current American female gymnastic grain will show up in the Core Hydration. So, competing with such names may make Gabby Douglas game-ready for Paris.

Furthermore, after a defeat by Jade Carey in the American Classic this year, Core Hydration will give Gabby a chance to settle the score against the Tokyo Olympic gold medalist. The Core Hydration has additional stakes as it will be her probable last chance to qualify for the US Olympic trials. But is she sufficiently ready to contest against the likes of Simone Biles? 

Simone Biles felt inspired when she saw Douglas win the 2012 Olympics

After the 2012 Olympic all-around gold, Gabby Douglas became the poster girl and the first Black woman gymnast to win such a laurel. Simone Biles followed the same route in 2013 winning the World Gymnastics Championships, defeating Gabby’s teammate in the 2012 London Olympics, Kyla Ross. Since then, Gabby Douglas has had Simone Biles in the same bracket rousing the inspiration among the communities who could have never thought of reigning in a sport that outrightly saw their participation at less than 10%.

However, in 2016, Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles faced each other several times. In the 2016 US Nationals, Simone Biles had the upper hand over Gabby Douglas, being the champion. The last time the two faced off each other was at the 2016 U.S. Olympic gymnastics team trials. Simone secured first place in the all-around competition with impressive scores in every routine, taking gold in the vault and floor exercise. Her overall score of 123.250 solidified her position as the top gymnast in the U.S.

On the other hand, Gabby Douglas, the 2012 Olympic all-around champion, finished seventh overall with a score of 117.450. Eventually, both qualified for Rio, representing the “Final Five,” alongside Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez, and Madison Kocian. Simone’s smashing performance in Rio sealed her position in the topmost echelon of elite gymnastics. But that very occasion saw a tone of discontent between her and Gabby.

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In Rio, after Simone clinched the all-around gold medal, the stadium roared to congratulate her while her teammates also stood up to do their bits. But Gabby remained seated, only with a smile on her face. That fanned the anticipation of a probable rift between the two. It once again came to the fore in the following year.

It was when their Rio teammate, Aly Raisman, faced some abusive comments. In a now-deleted tweet, Gabby noted, “It is our responsibility as women to dress modestly and be classy.” Simone instantly stood up to counter that saying, “Honestly seeing this brings me to tears bc as your teammate I expected more from you & to support her.” However, the rivalry never descended to the mats after 2016.

Gabby hibernated completely after the Rio Olympics, only to resume her gymnastic practice in 2022. Her competitive gymnastics stint started this season after an 8-year hiatus. She had a load of logic to back her late return simultaneously. “I took a break from 2016 until 2022 and after watching a good friend competing, I just missed it, I had a rough go at the 2016 Olympics, but I never wanted to end my career on a bad note,” Gabby Douglas stated.

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Both the gymnasts have had their complicated past and reasons to stand again and again. Interestingly, despite a strained relationship with Gabby, Simone was clear about drawing inspiration from the former.

Growing up, I didn’t see very many Black gymnasts… So whenever I did, I felt really inspired to go out there and want to be as good as them. I remember watching Gabby Douglas win the 2012 Olympics, and I was like, If she can do it, I can do it,” Simone had said once. Now, when Simone Biles is already sprinting ahead, what will be Gabby Douglas’ approach? The Core Hydration Classic is waiting to witness that.