US high performance director of women’s gymnastics, Tom Forster, will retire at the end of the year.
USA Gymnastics announced on Wednesday evening that Forster will be stepping down on December 31. Forster, who took over the program in June 2018, helped American women win gold at the 2018 and 2019 world championships and silver at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Forster said he was proud of what the program accomplished during his tenure. He did not immediately respond to an Associated Press text message.
“My passion for the sport has always been working with coaches and athletes to bring out the best in everyone,” he said in a statement.
USA Gymnastics will soon begin the search for the next program director. Forster will attend the national team camp scheduled for January as a guest.
Forster took over one of the flagship programs of the US Olympic movement at a tumultuous time as he faced the fallout from the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal. He was the program’s third national team coordinator in less than two years. Martha Karolyi retired after the Rio 2016 Olympics and Valeri Liukin, Karolyi’s replacement, resigned in February 2018.
The Americans maintained their status as the most dominant force in the sport in major competitions in 2018 and 2019 thanks in large part to the brilliance of five-time world champion and 2016 Olympic champion Simone Biles.
The reign of the United States ended in Tokyo during the summer. The Russians dominated the Americans in qualifying, then won their first team gold in nearly 30 years in the final, an event best remembered for Biles’ decision to withdraw from competition in due to a mental block that prevented him from performing his risky routines.
The United States, however, maintained their grip on the all-around title as Sunisa Lee edged out Brazilian Rebeca Andrade in the all-around final, becoming the fifth consecutive American woman to win the Olympic crown. Biles returned on the last day of competition to win bronze on the beam and give her seven Olympic medals, tying the highest number ever recorded by an American gymnast.
Whoever takes over will find the elite women’s program in transition. Four members of the 2020 Olympic team – Lee, Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum and Jade Carey – will begin competing collegially in January. MyKayla Skinner, who won silver in vault, has retired, and Biles is in no rush to decide whether she will attempt to compete in the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Biles, one of hundreds of women abused by Nassar, a former national team doctor, has been a fierce critic of USA Gymnastics over the years.
“Wait till you all realize the real problem with USAG isn’t Tom,” Biles tweeted Wednesday night.
USA Gymnastics has undergone a significant leadership overhaul in the five years since the survivors of Nassar first stepped forward. The organization may be nearing the end of its long mediation with survivors. A large majority of survivors approved a proposed $ 425 million settlement with USA Gymnastics, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
A settlement confirmation hearing is scheduled for next week in Indianapolis.