Konnor McClain started gymnastics at 18 months old after watching her older sister enjoy the sport. Long after her sister began pursuing other interests, McClain stayed invested, practicing twice daily and dedicating her life to making it to the top.
She started in the Junior Olympic program in 2015 at the age of ten, where she competed in HOPES, or pre-elite, competitions and placed second on balance beam, fourth in all-around, fifth on vault and seventh on floor exercise.
“It was really just fun for me all those years,” McClain says. “I always loved going to the gym, practicing and meeting new people.”
In 2017, McClain qualified for junior elite status and competed at the KPAC National Qualifier, Parkettes National Qualifier, American Classic and U.S. Classic with other well-known gymnasts Kayla DiCello and Irina Alexeeva.
By 2018 she had a silver medal in floor exercise at the Buckeye National Qualifier and International Gynix behind Alexeeva and second in the all-around at the American Classic behind DiCello. In the 2018 U.S. National Gymnastics Championships, McClain finished fifth in the all-around and won gold on the balance beam. This success launched her career, and McClain was added to the national team.
While on the national team, McClain competed at the 2019 City of Jesolo Trophy in Italy where the team won silver and she won gold in the all-around and bronze on the uneven bars and floor exercise. She was on a roll. She continued collecting medals at the Junior World Championships, the U.S. Classic and U.S. National Championships and was added to the junior national team.
In her last year as a junior elite, McClain competed at the International Gymnix where the team won gold and she won silver in the all-around and gold in all four event finals. It was time to move to the senior elite.
McClain made her debut at the 2021 Winter Cup, where she got the third-highest score on vault and fourth on beam. She was featured in the Peacock docuseries Golden: The Journey of USA’s Elite Gymnasts.
McClain moved to Plano to train at WOGA under Valeri Liukin in 2021; she settled down and made a family out of her fellow gymnasts. Though she has always been homeschooled, she attended homecoming in Plano with her WOGA friends.
After settling into WOGA and Plano life, McClain competed at the 2021 World Championships and was re-added to the national team.
“Going there and traveling, literally across the world, was so fun,” she says. “Competing on the world stage and where everybody could watch was just a crazy experience and one of the best experiences.”
In December, her father and grandmother died, and McClain reached out to Sunisa Lee, a friend and Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medalist, to discuss how to continue working through heartbreak.
After an emotional reset and a few more months of practice, she headed to the Winter Cup Challenge, where she sported an “MM” patch on her uniform in reference to her father. At the 2022 Winter Cup, McClain won the all-around competition. Other accolades this year include gold at the DTB Pokal Team Challenge and the 2022 City of Jesolo Trophy.
McClain is looking to the future and aims to compete in the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
“I’m definitely adding upgrades to my routines and getting more consistent each year,” McClain says. “Next year is a really important year to prepare all my routines and stay consistent building into 2024.”