U.S. gymnast Gowey not rattled by 'next great hope' label

Wed Jul 15, 2015 5:04pm EDT
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By Frank Pingue

TORONTO (Reuters) - American gymnast Rachel Gowey grew up with pictures of Shawn Johnson plastered across her bedroom walls and now finds herself trying to emulate her compatriot by reaching the top step of an Olympic podium.

The 17-year-old Gowey, back from a broken ankle suffered last August, showed plenty of poise competing on the biggest stage of her life at the July 10-26 Pan American Games where she won gold medals in the uneven bars and team competition.

"It was a great experience for her as far as competing on the big stage and handling all the pressure and dealing with injuries so I am very proud of her and what she's done," Gowey's coach Liang Chow said on Wednesday.

"As long as she can keep herself healthy and focused, you never know what we can expect for (the 2016 Rio Olympics).

Gowey has firmly set her sights on competing in next year's Olympics and in Chow she has someone who can help lead her there as he coached Johnson to four medals at the 2008 Beijing Games and Gabby Douglas to two golds at the 2012 London Games.

"He definitely knows what he's doing. He knows when to peak you at the right time and he knows when to not push you if you are injured," said Gowey.

"He understands that your body needs a break sometimes and he definitely understands that if you have a bad day you just have to move on and get ready for the future."

Gowey had one of those bad days on Wednesday as she ended her Pan Am outing on a sour note after finishing last in the beam final where she fell off the apparatus twice.   Continued...

Jul 14, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Rachel Gowey of the United States on the podium after winning the women's gymnastics uneven bars final during the 2015 Pan Am Games at Toronto Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports