DES MOINES, Iowa -- Her dreams for Olympic glory have come to an end, but Iowan Rachel Gowey had plenty to smile about after she landed in Des Moines Monday.
Her teammates from Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute, as well as her family, greeted her with signs, flowers, and hugs at the arrival gate.
“You know I didn`t think they were going to be here, I thought they were going to be at practice so it was such a great surprise having them here when I got down here to know that they`re supporting me and they`re here for me and it was really great,” said Gowey.
Friends and family are proud of the fact the Johnston High School grad got to live out a young gymnasts dream.
“She inspires us all because she works so hard and she`s been through so much, so many injuries, so many hard days, I think we can definitely see how hard she works,” said teammate Norah Flatley
After suffering injuries in 2013 and 2014, those closest to Gowey are thrilled she was even able to compete in the Olympic Trials.
“We`re so proud of Rachel because through all of this, she`s come back, she hasn`t thrown the towel in, and she`s come back and shown what kind of grit she has,” said Alyce Thurman, Gowey’s grandmother.
As far as Gowey’s Olympic hopes go, the 2016 games in Rio looked to have been her one shot.
“That was probably my only quad to try, but I`m ok with that, I`m ready to go to college now and have fun and enjoy the sport,” said Gowey.
Gowey now makes the transition from Olympic gymnastics to collegiate gymnastics when she starts at the University of Florida in the fall.
“Hopefully I`ll take a couple of days off and definitely come back in the gym and train some more and just kind of have fun with the rest of my summer and be a normal kid that I couldn`t be when I was training,” said Gowey.
The 18-year-old is happy to be home and headed back to her native Urbandale.
“I missed my teammates, I missed my family, I missed the routine of being here, but I definitely had such a great time out in San Jose, but I`m just glad to be back," said Gowey.
Rachel finished in 11th out of 14 gymnasts who were vying for the top five spots.
The five who will represent Team USA in Rio are Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Aly Raisman and Madison Kocian