USA Gymnastics coordinator Karolyi likely done after Rio
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (AP) — Martha Karolyi will likely retire after the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the longtime U.S. women’s gymnastics coach said Friday.
Karolyi, 72, officially USA Gymnastics’ national team coordinator, has headed the team since 2001, when she took over for her husband, Bela Karolyi.
“I am pretty much decided that Rio will be my last competition,” Karolyi said after a practice session Friday in preparation for Saturday’s U.S. Classic competition near Chicago. “I have no bad feelings about that, because I accomplished so much and I’m very happy with that.”
The Karolyis have been powerful figures in American gymnastics since defecting from Romania in 1981. The couple has trained nine Olympic champions, and Martha Karolyi has led the U.S. women to a team silver or gold medal at each of the last three Olympics. Before defecting, the Karolyis also coached Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci, the star of the 1976 Games.
Karolyi had said before the 2012 Olympics that she’d retire after those games in London, but decided to stay on. She said on Friday that her retirement isn’t really something she’s thinking much about.
“My focus is really on preparing these girls for the world championship, and then for Rio and then we’ll be happy in retirement,” she said.
A spokeswoman for USA Gymnastics also said the organization was focused on getting ready for the Olympics but is aware of Karolyi’s intentions.
“That is the plan; however, right now we are focused on 2016 and doing everything we need to prepare our athletes for Rio,” Leslie King said. “Once we are done with the Olympic Games in Rio, then we will address this.”