USA Gymnastics

USAG High Performance Director Tom Forster Steps Down

USAG High Performance Director Tom Forster Steps Down

Tom Forster, high-performance director since June 2018, will be leaving his post on Dec. 31.

Dec 9, 2021 by Briar Napier
USAG High Performance Director Tom Forster Steps Down

USA Gymnastics will be on the hunt for a new high-performance director after the head of the women’s team announced Wednesday that he’d be stepping down from his role at the end of the year.

Tom Forster, the leader of the program since June 2018, will be leaving his post on Dec. 31. Forster will be present at the national team’s training camp as a guest in January as the organization seeks his replacement.

Forster’s tenure brought mixed results for USA Gymnastics, one of the world’s elite nations in the sport. The team won gold in the 2018 and 2019 World Championships but are coming off an underwhelming Tokyo Olympics this summer in which the U.S. failed to win the world or Olympic team title for the first time in 11 years. 

"It has been an incredible honor to lead Team USA," Forster said via a statement. "Thank you to everyone who supported me during my time in this role. I look forward to supporting the next High Performance Director as they lead our wonderful women’s program.”

That new director will be tasked with preparing the U.S. for the 2024 Paris Olympics that loom roughly two-and-a-half years away. Whoever is hired will be USA Gymnastics’ fourth high-performance director since 2016 after Martha Karolyi retired following the Rio Olympics and Valeri Liukin left in Feb. 2018.

An immensely-powerful position in USA Gymnastics, Forster’s moves to lower the temperature of training camps — such as not pushing athletes to train injured — was a change that warranted praise after years of an environment that festered the likes of Larry Nassar, the team’s longtime doctor that was convicted of sexually abusing hundreds of gymnasts in 2017.

Simone Biles, likely the greatest gymnast of all time, had one of her most successful periods in the early days of Forster’s tenure, being a part of nine combined gold medals at the 2018 and 2019 World Championships. But Biles withdrew from the team competition at the Tokyo Olympics after a bout of “the twisties,” a dangerous mental block that results in a loss of air awareness when performing routines.

Biles would return to win a bronze in the balance beam in Tokyo, while 18-year-old Sunisa Lee stunned the field to win gold in the all-around to become the fifth straight American to win the event. But the team of Biles, Lee, Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum couldn’t outmatch Russia, which won its first team gold in almost 30 years.