As we get closer and closer to the Olympics, NBC released episode 5 of its series “Golden: The Journey of USA’s Elite Gymnasts” on its new streaming service, Peacock. Unlike most of the NBC gymnastics pieces from over the years, these episodes take a more serious angle. In short, the episodes are far from “The Ranch” documentary from 2016.
Join us as we recap each episode. If you’d like to watch along, the episodes are available here with a free Peacock account. Today we’re talking about the recently dropped episode five.
Konnor’s mom is canceling Konnor’s weekly massage because they, very casually, have moved out of the state. So long freezing cold West Virginia, hello sunny Plano, Texas.
Laurie’s watching Charlotte Drury train on trampoline. Drury seems exhausted from her training, which Laurie relates to. Laurie said that she was “having a nervous breakdown” before Classic. That seemed to be the theme for many of the gymnasts at that meet. While Laurie said it was because the beam and bars were cursed, perhaps it could be chalked up to the idea that when an immense amount of pressure is put on young adults, they tend to crack, or in the gymnasts’ case, slip.
Jess Graba and Alison Lim, Suni’s coaches, are getting their kids out the door and to the gym. Do their kids just hang around the gym all day? Ngl, that seems like a blast.
As per usual, Suni is “feeling a little bit stressed,” and is still struggling with injuries. She feels like Tom and the Olympic Committee always see her injured, so she may not seem reliable. While she’s working on beam, Jess is scribbling judges shorthand, trying to figure out how to maximize her routine’s potential.
To the untrained eye, it looks like he’s just doodling while Suni practices.
We get an explanation as to why it’s so important that gymnasts “peak” at certain times, and how challenging that makes the sport.
MyKayla’s nieces, nephew, sister, husband and mom are with her in the gym. I’m not sure I’ve seen MyKayla in the gym with just her coaches and no family members once this entire series.
MyKayla talks about how she didn’t like gymnastics as a kid, but her mom kept her in it. After a while, MyKayla grew to enjoy the sport, but it was taxing on their family. At one point, MyKayla’s father’s pay was cut and they didn’t think they were going to be able to afford gymnastics, but her coach created a position in the gym’s office for her mom. Did the inspiration for Payson Keelers’ plot line come from the Skinner family?
There’s a conversation about the price of gymnastics and the sacrifices many families make to afford it. Suni’s dad mentions how he “thought a leotard cost maybe 20 bucks.” Oh boy, wouldn’t that be nice. Suni’s family would fundraise for Suni to compete by selling T-shirts and doing a banquet where they’d invite friends and family.
Konnor decided to switch gyms because things just kept going poorly at her gym. The night she got home from Classic, she cleared everything out of her locker, which is commemorated in a TikTok, obviously.
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. As a teenager, Konnor makes me feel SEEN.
Konnor says until the pandemic started, things were good with her coach, Susan, and in the gym. However, Susan often brought up outside topics like Donald Trump or things happening in China, instead of being focused on gymnastics. Konnor’s mom held out hope that things would get better since she was friends with Susan, but it didn’t.
Being the only Black girl in her group, Konnor felt uncomfortable in the environment. Konnor speaks more to the struggle of growing up in West Virginia and with white people saying racist things around her. She says Morgan inspired her to speak up.
Susan feels like Konnor’s family could have handled the situation better because what they did was so sudden. Susan says she did talk about politics, but only sometimes. Randy, her husband, says he did talk politics in the gym. Susan says she still loves Konnor and wants the best for her. Maybe, just maybe, the best for her was not letting her compete while she was throwing up in a bag.
Konnor’s parents appreciate the sacrifices Susan made for Konnor, but to make Konnor the best gymnasts she could be, she had to leave.
Morgan’s training for championships but is still sore. Morgan says “it will get easier with time, hopefully.” Now, I hate to sound like a broken record, but maybe training with an elbow that isn’t fully healed is the reason it hasn’t been getting any easier?
That…That does not look good.
Konnor and her mom have been living in and out of hotels since she got to Texas. We hear about Valeri and how legendary he is in the gymnastics world. Konnor had chosen to go to Valeri because of how helpful he was when she was in the development program.
Konnor’s dad says the reason people don’t like Valeri is because he pushes girls so hard, but why else would they be there. Now let’s pause. They have Vanessa Atler talks about how Valeri would weigh her three times during training. Everyone’s experiences are different, and it’s important to remember that. Just because Konnor hasn’t experienced what other gymnasts have, doesn’t mean he is like that with every other athlete.
Konnor’s dad said he asked Konnor what she would do if Valeri said she had to lose five pounds, and she said she’d do it. Um, no. It’s not a coach’s place to say what someone’s weight should be. They’re not medical professionals nor dietitians. Coaches can tell athletes they need to strengthen specific muscles or should try different exercises, but no, you shouldn’t teach your child it’s OK for people who aren’t doctors to make recommendations about your health.
Konnor says that people only focus on the bad things about Valeri from the past, but everyone she knows likes him now.
Ah! Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross have come to visit Laurie in training. The world of Olympic gold medalists is small.
This is very wholesome content. #Adorbs
Laurie helps like she needs to redeem herself from her Classic performance before championships. Laurie “can’t wait to be a crowd pleaser again.” Laurie talks about how she was really happy with the silver medal she got at Rio and she just wants to emulate that performance and feeling.
Konnor has some issues with the ligaments in her foot and other issues and won’t be going to championships, which means she won’t be going to Olympic Trials.
We’re at the championships in Fort Worth, Texas. Peng Peng Lee is hyping up the audience, cheering for “USA.” How many people there know Peng is from Canada? As the National Anthem is sung, the athletes are making their entrance.
Suni is up on bars. Her whole family is there cheering her on, including her dad. It’s a great routine, especially after falling at Classic. She gets a 15.300. On vault, MyKayla has a solid landing, with a 14.975. After the first rotation, Suni’s in second and MyKayla’s in fourth.
On beam, Morgan falls on her back full, as well as her side aerial + back layout sequence and nearly hits her face on her dismount, only getting a 10.300. On floor, Suni’s routine is solid, except for her last landing, where her ankle seemed to buckle. Nevertheless, she gets a 13.750.
Now, MyKayla’s on beam and falls on her back handspring into a back full. After the fall, the routine is solid. She gets a 12.550.
Laurie had fallen on her landing during warmups and hurt her knee. She has some wobbles and doesn’t do her real dismount. She gets a 12.400.
There’s a somber mood as the first night of championships. Laurie’s eyes are watering as the episode ends.
Now this, this was sad.
READ THIS NEXT: “Golden” Episode 4 Recap
Article by Katie Simons
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