Kyla Ross Out for the Olympics; Will Almost Definitely Be Next NCAA Superstar

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8 Things to Know About Kyla Ross' Retirement from Elite Gymnastics

Kyla Ross
© Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

The lowdown: Feb. 22, 2016 -- London Olympic gold medalist Kyla Ross -- the youngest member of the 2012 "Fierce Five" Olympic team -- announced today that she's retiring from elite gymnastics and will focus on her collegiate career at UCLA. She originally deferred entry to train for Rio, but will now most likely attend in the fall of this year.

Why she's doing it now: Though it may seem like a surprise to be announcing this now, less than six months from the Olympics, it's actually an impressive and responsible decision to make. We haven't talked to Ross directly, but it seems that she decided she'd be a healthier and happier person if she turned her focus to NCAA now, and, most likely felt that her odds of making the 2016 Olympic team weren't high. So rather than go through the grueling process of Olympic trials, she's opting to rest her mind and body and prepare for the next phase of her gymnastics career.

UCLA will be a powerhouse, to say the least: Ross has always been a class act -- mature beyond her years, and by many accounts, a mentor to the younger gymnasts (check out this nice tribute that three-time world all-around champ Simone Biles posted on Instagram). She'll be missed in elite, but will be an absolute superstar in NCAA gymnastics. With clean lines and the ability to hit cold, she will be a huge asset to the UCLA team and could easily set new NCAA records. Also, she may well meet up with her elite teammates on the UCLA squad: Both Biles and fellow US national team member Madison Kocian have also signed letters of intent to attend UCLA.

Her quotes: Ross said, in a press release, "Deciding to retire from elite gymnastics has been one of the most difficult decisions I have made in my life, but I feel my time as an elite gymnast has come to an end. I truly love the sport of gymnastics and I am so fortunate to have been able to accomplish my dreams with the help of USA Gymnastics and all of its staff... Having the opportunity to represent the US through gymnastics has been an experience I will always cherish. I hope to still inspire young gymnasts as I transition to collegiate gymnastics and this next chapter in my life."

What other people said: Olympic teammate Aly Raisman, who's currently training for a second Olympic team berth, had kind words to say on Twitter, as did national team coordinator Martha Karolyi and USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny, in the official press release.

Perhaps the funniest tweet in recognition of Ross came from USA Gymnastics' Director of Content and Communications Scott Bregman, who wrote, "When I grow up, I want to be as mature and wise as @kyla_ross96."

Ross' awesome elite career: Ross first made the junior national team in 2009, the same year she won her first junior all-around title. She won it again in 2010, before placing second in 2011. She made the Olympic team as a first-year senior, winning gold in London with the team and earning props from fans around the world for her incredible poise under pressure.

She then picked up five world medals in 2013 and 2014 -- twice ending up on the all-around podium (2nd in 2013; 3rd in 2014 -- Biles won both years.)

More on Kyla Ross' retirement from elite:
USA Gymnastics' story
Orange County Register's story

Our favorite Kyla Ross moment of all time:
When she rocked her second event of team finals at the 2012 Olympics, leading off the US on beam. She and her coach, Jenny, have a a great celebratory moment after as well. Watch it.