Gabby Douglas ready for gymnastics comeback at age 18

FILE - In this July 31, 2012 file photo, U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas performs on the balance beam during the Artistic Gymnastics women's team final at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Douglas' comeback is picking up speed. She will work out in front of U.S. women's gymnastics team coordinator Martha Karolyi next week, a major step toward her return to elite competition. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)FILE - In this July 31, 2012 file photo, U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas performs on the balance beam during the Artistic Gymnastics women’s team final at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Douglas’ comeback is picking up speed. She will work out in front of U.S. women’s gymnastics team coordinator Martha Karolyi next week, a major step toward her return to elite competition. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
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PITTSBURGH — Gabby Douglas can’t describe it exactly. It just kind of happened.

At some point over the winter while the defending women’s gymnastics Olympic all-around champion hung out with her family in Los Angeles, something clicked.

Rested and healthy following an 18-month sabbatical — if crisscrossing the country and the world as the face of your sport can be called a sabbatical — a familiar feeling returned.

“I just figured it was time to go back,” she said.

Back to the sanity of Iowa. Back to coach Liang Chow. Back to the gym. Back to chase history.

Olympic women's gymnastics champion Gabrielle Douglas answers questions during an interview Monday, June 23, 2014, in Pittsburgh. Douglas is hoping to return to competition at the USA Gymnastics national championships in Pittsburgh in August. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

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Olympic women’s gymnastics champion Gabrielle Douglas answers questions during an interview Monday, ... more >

No woman has ever successfully defended her Olympic all-around title since 1968.

More than two years out from the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Douglas’ comeback is already well underway. It even has a possible target date: the 2014 U.S. Nationals in Pittsburgh later this summer.

The 18-year-old told The Associated Press on Monday she hopes to compete in the all-around title at nationals — where Douglas could face current world all-around champion and good friend Simone Biles — to help her get set for the world championships in China this fall.

“I’m going to be so nervous,” Douglas said with a laugh.

Maybe, but not scared.

Despite feeling as if she was “starting from scratch” when she went back to work with Chow in April, Douglas isn’t exactly taking things slow.

She’s training six days a week and for proof of how serious she is, look no further than her wrists, which are currently several different shades of blue thanks to a series of battles with the uneven bars.

Pressed on why she’s attempting something that hasn’t been done since Vera Caslavska of Czechoslovakia did it in 1964 and 1968 and Douglas just shrugged her remarkably muscled shoulders.

“I like what I do,” she said. “I think my life is better when I just go do it. You can’t be worried about ‘What if this happens? What if that happens?”

Douglas estimates she’s at “80 percent” physically compared to where she was while winning the all-around in London on Aug. 2, 2012.

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