CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) – Jade Carey is finally entering her freshman year at Oregon State, after taking a somewhat twisty road to Corvallis.
Then again, the 21-year-old Olympic gold medalist is used to taking the non-traditional route.
After reaching the pinnacle of his sport in Tokyo, Carey honored his commitment to compete for the Beavers, embarking on a new chapter where his elite and collegiate careers are intertwined.
Carey first visited the state of Oregon in 2015 and enlisted in 2017. But the plan was to compete in the Olympics and then focus on school.
“Since the first time I came here, I have fallen in love with everything about this city and this campus,” she said last week after arriving on campus. “I am particularly excited to be part of the gymnastics team. It’s just a really good group of girls and I love the coaches.
After the coronavirus pandemic pushed back the Olympics for a year, Carey signed up and took a few courses in Oregon State remotely from her home in Arizona while training.
“I just needed something to do besides gymnastics,” said the kinesiology major.
She secured her spot at the Olympics in an unusual way, taking advantage of a provision by the International Gymnastics Federation for the 2020 Games that allowed athletes to lock in an individual spot if they accumulated enough points in the Olympic Games. world Cup.
Carey traveled the world collecting points and accepted his spot on the eve of the US Olympic Trials. But that meant she was giving up on being part of the four-woman squad that ended up winning silver in the tag team competition. The federation has since abandoned the point arrangement.
In Japan, Carey was considered one of the jumping favorites, but she stumbled on the track in her first attempt at distraction. Disappointed but fearless, she bounced back, skillfully executing her routine on the floor, to the cheers of her teammates watching her.
Now in hand, it was time to move on.
The NCAA’s Name, Image, and Likeness Policy, adopted in July, facilitated its decision to attend the state of Oregon. She can keep her elite status and go to school.
“I am excited for all of these new opportunities that I am receiving. With NIL, especially in gymnastics, there is not really a choice anymore whether I have to go to college or if I am professional, you can get the best of both worlds, ”she said.
Carey is not the only one among the American gymnasts who competed in Tokyo. Sunisa Lee is a freshman at Auburn, Jordan Chiles will compete for UCLA and Grace McCallum is in Utah.
There will still be an adjustment. First, she will have a new coach, Tanya Chaplin of Oregon State, after being coached for most of her career by her father, Brian Carey.
It will be limited to only 20 hours of training per week, compared to 40 for elite gymnasts.
And finally, she’ll juggle professional duties, crossing the country this fall on the Gold Over America tour to celebrate Team America’s Olympic success. In fact, her introduction to campus was brief: she’ll be hitting the road next week.
“I will be away for about seven weeks, six weeks will be for school, but I will take my courses online. I just do my homework whenever I can, ”she said.
During her short stay at Corvallis, she received a standing ovation from the Beaver’s faithful during a football game.
“It’s a point of pride,” Oregon State athletic director Scott Barnes said of hosting a gold medalist on campus. “And what an incredible alignment with what the Pac-12 is, namely sports and the Olympic championships.”
The college gymnastics season begins in January. Beavers will train in a new 21,000 square foot facility that opened this spring.