Meet the team helping US gymnasts recover at the Olympic team trials in St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – US Men’s gymnastics is about midway through day 2 of the Olympic team trials. The Olympic team selection committee will be announcing who will head Tokyo at the end of the competition. The women completed their first meet last night.

The four gymnasts we had on our watch list heading into trials are the same ones who landed in the top four after day one, Simone Biles, Suni Lee, Jordan Chiles, and Mykayla Skinner, in that order. Biles placed first in three of the four events.

Looking at the bigger picture, these athletes have had quick turnarounds heading into these last two days of competition. So recovery has been the main focus. We got to hear a little bit about that today.

“You know aches and pains happen, but can they functionally do the activities that they’re here to do, right?” said SSM Health Sports Medicine Outreach Manager Katie Smith.

Katie Smith and her team at SSM Health have one job, to make sure these US Gymnasts stay healthy so they can perform at their best. They’ve been working hands-on with the athletes through the Olympic trials on their recovery.

“It kind of depends on what type of ailments the athlete is dealing with, but this is a lot of manual therapy. Also, a lot of just maintenance because that’s really what these athletes are dealing with. They’re going to have wear and tear type of injuries, but it’s really about maintaining those to be really functional most importantly, said Smith.

Smith says they have an entire recovery center where the SSM Health team can tend to the athlete’s physical needs. US Gymnastics provides a well-rounded, comprehensive health care program that focuses on their mental and nutritional needs.

Resources that have much improved over time.

“I mean, ultimately we kind of just waited for injuries to occur 25 years ago. Now the preventative side of things is much stronger than it used to be. So I think we’ve been able to manage some of these smaller injuries than probably we could many Olympics ago,” said Smith.

The pandemic has brought about mental and physical obstacles, a challenge every single athlete has had to overcome to be here today.

“Some of these guys may have been feeling fantastic 12 months ago and then now they have a whole extra year of training. That can be really challenging on some of their bodies. I think that’s sort of a piece of this year that different than a normal Olympic year,” said Smith.

Brody Malone and Shane Wiskus were the top two leaders for the men after day one.

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