The biggest victory of the year for Oregon State athletics is already in the books, but it didn’t occur on United States soil, and the athlete responsible hasn’t even competed for the Beavers yet.
While she may not have donned an Oregon State uniform during her appearance in the Tokyo Olympics this summer, gymnast Jade Carey represented her university and country on the largest stage in the world. What she accomplished made her a household name on a global scale.
An eighth-place finish in the vault final and a ninth-place standing in the all-around competition would be enough for most Olympic gymnasts to walk away pleased with their performance, but Carey had her sights set on a grander achievement: a gold medal.
Carey’s third event, the floor exercise, gave her an opportunity to complete that lifelong goal. The gold medal in the floor exercise had gone to an American in each of the last two Olympics with Aly Raisman coming away victorious in 2012 and Simone Biles earning the hardware in 2016.
With a score of 14.366 in the final - topping her qualifying mark of 14.100 - Carey finished ahead of Italian Vanessa Ferrari for first place in the event.
What’s it like to be an Olympic gold medalist?
“It means everything to me,” Carey told BeaverBlitz. “It’s everything I’ve ever worked for since I was a little kid, so for that dream to come true was just amazing, and especially special to share it with my dad.”
Carey’s dad, Brian, was one of the very few parents allowed to attend the Tokyo Olympics due to the virus-related restrictions placed on spectators. Brian Carey wasn’t simply spectating in Japan, though. He’s coached his daughter throughout her gymnastics career, and his role as a coach allowed him to make the trip halfway across the world to watch Jade secure a gold medal.
“It was really special to have him there, especially because we weren’t allowed to have spectators,” Jade Carey said.
The pure emotion captured on camera after the results in the floor exercise were finalized showed the strong bond between Brian and Jade - one that any other coach might not have with the athletes they train.
“He was my coach,” Carey explained, “but at times he was my dad.”
Sharing the Olympic experience with her father was perhaps the second-best highlight of her time in Tokyo behind winning gold, but even in a COVID-impacted environment, Carey enjoyed all that came with the two-week-long trip.
Protocols geared toward limiting contact between athletes made for the most unique Olympics to date, and the stories from inside the Olympic Village have been chronicled throughout the summer, but despite the circumstances, Carey’s experience was still life-changing.
“It was a different Olympics just because of COVID and everything,” she said. “We didn’t get to go out and explore at all. We were just either in the gym or in the hotel, but we definitely made the best of it and would play games in our hotel and stuff like that in our free time.”
Back home in the United States, Carey is getting ready to embark on the next chapter of her career and life. She’ll call Corvallis home for the next four years as she attends school at Oregon State University and competes for the Beavers’ nationally-renowned gymnastics team.
The Phoenix, Arizona native has already accomplished the greatest feat in athletics, and she’s medaled in a number of national and international competitions outside of the Olympics, but there’s still more to work toward, namely, an NCAA title.
“That would be really awesome,” she said, “and I know that all of us are in here every day working really hard to hopefully win that national championship.”
The “here” Carey referred to is Oregon State’s brand new state-of-the-art gymnastics center, located within a five-minute drive from campus. The 20,000 square foot practice facility is the largest of its kind in the Pac-12 Conference, and as part of the 2018 Oregon State Athletics Strategic Plan, the new gymnastics center highlights the school’s commitment to recruiting, training, and competing at the highest level possible.
It’s the home of a program that has made 29 national championship appearances, including seven individual victories. The Beavers also boast 51 All-Americans to date, along with numerous other achievements.
Carey believes Oregon State has a chance to bring home a national championship in the upcoming 2021-22 campaign.
“I really think that we do,” she said. “This team is something special, and we have a lot of incoming freshmen with a lot of talent, so I think it’s going to be great.”
Now at age 21, Carey is entering her freshman year at Oregon State. She committed to the Beavers’ gymnastics program four years ago, signing her letter of intent in November 2017, but with the Olympics on her radar, Carey deferred her enrollment until after their conclusion.
What convinced the Arizona native to commit to Oregon State out of high school?
“Just since the moment I stepped on this campus, it was so pretty,” she answered. “Meeting people and the coaches, and meeting the girls on the team, I just knew that this was the place for me.”
She’s now finally on campus for good, and her initial thoughts on living in Corvallis and attending Oregon State are immensely positive.
“It’s been really great getting to know the girls on the team and just getting to know what’s around and everything like that,” Carey said. “I’m just excited for when I’m back from (Simone Biles’ Gold Over America Tour) and will be able to be here for a little bit longer.”
Before heading out for the tour, Carey attended Oregon State’s home-opening football game against Hawai’i on September 11th, where she was recognized in front of thousands of Beaver fans for her accomplishments in Tokyo.
She also spoke with Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff, who made the eighth stop on his “listening tour” one day earlier.
“I got an opportunity to tour the facilities,” said Kliavkoff, “and that included the new gymnastics center, which is just amazing. At the end, we had the opportunity to meet some of the team members, and I got to shake Jade’s hand and congratulate her on her medal.
“We walked out, and I said to (Oregon State Director of Athletics Scott Barnes), that’s an amazing experience, and amazingly, because I’ve been touring our other campuses, I’ve had one of those a week where I’ve gotten to meet a medalist from the Olympics. She will fit in very well in the Pac-12, and we’re very proud of her and the rest of our Olympians.”
Barnes is excited to welcome Carey to campus. She is Oregon State’s first Olympic gold medalist in any sport since 2004 (Joey Hansen - men’s rowing) and is one of four current or former Beavers to compete in the Tokyo Games.
“It’s such a pride point,” said Barnes, “and what an amazing alignment with what the Pac-12 is all about, which is Olympic sports and a championship conference.
“I’m just really thankful for our coaching staff and the job they’ve done - Tanya (Chaplin) and her crew - to recruit great student-athletes, Jade being one of those. Obviously now Jade being a center of attention, but a student-athlete - like so many of ours - that’s humble, that is going to continue to work hard, and be an awesome part of this big family of ours.”
Carey will make her first appearance in an Oregon State uniform when the 2021-22 season gets underway this winter.
Source : https://247sports.com/college/oregon-state/Article/Oregon-State-Beavers-gymnastics-2021-Jade-Carey-Olympic-gold-medalist-experience-171031556/1431