Follow Us On
McCusker: ‘I Am Really Focusing On My Execution’
(5 votes, average 4.40 out of 5)

As 2018 World Championships team gold medalist Riley McCusker readies for the upcoming Pan American Games, U.S. Championships and World Championships, she told IG she is primed to refine and fortify her competitive program.

McCusker, whose virtuosity and precision have established her as one of the top U.S. all-arounders in this Olympic cycle, trains under coach Maggie Haney at MG Elite in Morganville, New Jersey. She placed third all-around, first on uneven bars and second on balance beam at the 2017 P&G (U.S.) Championships; and third all-around, second on uneven bars and third on balance beam at the 2018 U.S. Championships.

At last fall’s World Championships in Doha, Qatar, McCusker helped the U.S. easily win the team final and finished eighth all-around in qualifications. A maximum of two gymnasts per country could advance to the all-around final, so as the third-ranked U.S. gymnast, she did not move on.

Upgrades and consistency could help McCusker affirm and better her position this year. She is one of eight gymnasts in contention for a spot on the U.S. team at the Pan American Games that begin July 26 in Lima, Peru. (The U.S. team will be named following the GK U.S. Classic on July 20, where McCusker is slated to compete.) Beyond Lima, McCusker looks forward to a solid performance at the U.S. Championships in Kansas City in August and a return to Worlds, which will be held in Stuttgart in October.

McCusker, who turned 18 on July 9, speaks about her strategies and aspirations in this IG Online chat.

IG: Between now and the end of the selection process for the Pan American Games, what will you be focusing on so you can secure one of the spots in the lineup for Lima?

RM: We are really focusing on two different aspects of my gymnastics. One part is finalizing all of my skills and upgrades for the upcoming season, and the second part is being very detail-oriented and cleaning up the rest of my routines. We are always focusing on my execution score.

IG: How have you evolved as a gymnast, physically and mentally, since last year's World Championships?

RM: I definitely believe that I have evolved and matured since last year’s Worlds. Being able to compete in Doha was an experience that helped me grow tremendously as a person and a gymnast. It was great to get a taste of performing on a big stage. I also feel very confident in my skills now, so that’s super helpful.

IG: With three important meets coming up (Pan American Games, U.S. Championships and World Championships), what are your planned upgrades, and how do you intend to pace their roll-out?

RM: Because of the three major competitions back-to-back, our plan is to add some of the easier upgrades in the beginning of the season, such as a new flight series on beam. Then mid-to-later in the season, my goal is to put all of my other new skills into my routines. So, I will probably save my double layout for Worlds Selection just so I can save my body some.

IG: This year you face some new competition from the former juniors, as well as the seniors with whom you are very familiar. What will it take for you to hold your own against the experienced seniors and the ambitious newcomers?

RM: In my experience, I perform my best when I’m just focused on what I can control, which is my gymnastics. But I am really focusing on my execution, so I am hoping that helps me. I also believe that my artistic quality stands out!

Read “Ms. Consistency,” a four-page feature on McCusker, in the November 2018 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions, or order back issues, click here.

To subscribe to the print and/or digital edition, or to order back issues of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

Comments (0)add comment

Write comment

security image
Write the displayed characters


busy