This was supposed to be Kayla Williams' Olympic moment.
After becoming the first American gymnast to win the vault title at the World Championships in 2009 as a 16-year-old, the former Nitro resident was poised to become one of America's darlings at this week's 2012 Summer Games in London.
Williams' career path abruptly took as many twists and turns as a Yurchenko double full vault, but in the end the 2011 Huntington High graduate stuck the landing as usual.
After her elite career came to a sudden end months after bursting onto the scene at the World Championships, Williams signed with Alabama in May 2010.
And this past spring the 5-foot-2 powerhouse realized another dream when she played a key role as a true freshman in helping the Crimson Tide capture their second straight NCAA gymnastics championship in April in Los Angeles.
"It's an amazing feeling,'' said the 19-year-old Williams of winning a team national title during a recent phone interview from Tuscaloosa, Ala. "You can't really compare it to any other accomplishment. You didn't do it by yourself.
"You have this whole team backing you up and you're making the whole team's dream come true. All my other accomplishments are great and wonderful, but you get to celebrate and relive the memories all over again with these 17 other girls.''
Williams recognizes that she has accomplished more than she ever thought possible, even if her red, white and blue aspirations never materialized.
"I think that's going to happen with every Olympics,'' she said of pondering what might have been. "I think it will always be that kind of thing, 'I wish I were doing it.'
"I have to remember how blessed I am to be competing for the University of Alabama and the career I have. Not too many gymnasts walk around with a World gold medal. I'm about to get a big 'ol ring in the fall.''
Williams said she is at peace with how her career has turned out.
"Even with these girls on the Olympic team, they can tell you right now it's a day-to-day thing,'' she said. "Things change. It's not necessarily going to be a dream come true. I took it all in stride.
"Ultimately my goal was to compete in college and get a college education and do a sport I love. I'm happy where I am. Now I'm just enjoying college gymnastics and cheering Team USA when the Olympics are on. I'm going to watch the Olympics and cheer for them and not dwell on the fact I'm not there.''
Williams said she thinks the U.S. has a good chance to win it all in London.
"I've known each one of those girls for a while now,'' she said. "I'm so excited for them and what they have ahead of them. They're such talented girls and mentally strong. I envision Team USA coming back with a gold.''
Williams' rise from Junior Olympic champion to world vault champion was meteoric.
She began 2009 as a Level 10 gymnast, which is below elite level in USA Gymnastics. In May, she won the Junior Olympic National Championships in the all-around, vault and floor exercise, and silver on balance beam.
After that, Williams received an exclusive invitation to a developmental camp at U.S. team coordinators' Marta and Bela Karolyi's training ranch in New Waverly, Texas, after Steve Penny, the president of USA Gymnastics, saw Williams' performance on the floor and vault.