Gymnasts to Watch at the Olympic Trials
I’ve been following women’s gymnastics my whole life, and I can’t remember a more tightly contested Olympic Trials than the ones that begin tomorrow night in San Jose, California. Although Alexandra Raisman and Jordyn Weiber are considered locks for the team, the other three spots on the five-person squad are still up for grabs. If all of the young women below hit their routines at Trials, the selection committee—chaired by legendary Romanian coach Marta Karolyi—will have some tough choices to make in the following weeks. (Insert bad Sophie’s Choice joke here.)
Nastia Liukin, 22
By this time in 2008, Liukin (pictured) had already more or less secured her spot on the Olympic team, where she would go on to win all-around gold, plus three silvers and a bronze. Four years later, she’ll have to fight for a ticket to London. She’ll be competing only on her two best events—bars and beam—and in a field of strong all-arounders, she’ll need to be practically perfect to grab one of the remaining spots on the team. But don’t count her out. Americans tend to be weak on the uneven bars, the event on which Liukin narrowly missed a gold medal in 2008. Fitbie spoke with Liukin shortly after the National Championships; read the Q&A here.
Gabby Douglas, 16
Some consider Douglas a lock for the Games along with Raisman and Weiber. Others say the relative newcomer still has more to prove before she’s guaranteed a ticket to London. Either way, you’ll enjoy watching her compete at Trials. Her weightless appearance on the uneven bars and powerful tumbling passes led Karolyi dubbing her “the flying squirrel.”
Alicia Sacramone, 24
A mainstay in American gymnastics for over a decade, Sacramone is considered ancient for a gymnast. But after choking at the Beijing Games—she fell on both floor and beam, arguably costing the team the gold to China—she has said she is determined to redeem herself in London. Despite still recovering from an Achilles tendon tear, she showed no signs of stress at the National Championships earlier this month, where she placed first on vault and third on beam.
McKayla Maroney, 16
Maroney took a scary spill during warm-ups for floor exercise at the National Championships, and suffered a concussion and a broken nose as a result. When she’s in top form, however, nobody can match her on vault—she’s the 2011 World Champion.
Sarah Finnegan and Kyla Ross, 15
They may be young, but both Finnegan and Ross are already strong all-around contenders.
Christine Mattheis is an editor at Fitbie.
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