On the 5th of August, 2016, the Rio Olympics will officially begin, and by then we will have known for over a month which young female gymnastics stars have made the team that will set out to emulate the amazing success of the ‘Fierce Five’ – Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross, and Jordyn Wieber – the 2012 US women’s artistic gymnastics team that blew the world away in London.
The trials that will decide the makeup of the girls gymnastics team for the 2016 Olympics will not take place until July but there are already some very obvious – and some not so obvious – contenders to keep an eye on ahead of that competition. Here is a look at some of them:
There are those who are proclaiming that Biles will go down as the best artistic gymnast the US has ever sent to an Olympic competition and the almost 19-year-old certainly has the medals and titles to already begin backing that assertion up. She’ s the three-time World all-around champion (2013-15), three-time United States national all-around champion (2013-15), three-time world floor champion (2013-15), two-time world balance beam champion (2014, 2015), and was a member of the gold medal-winning American team at the 2014 and the 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.
There is more to Simone than technical brilliance though. She’s a sky high tumbler who fills her routines with smiles, sass and funk. Her vault and beam work is practically flawless as well. If anyone is a shoo-in to make the team for Rio it’s Simone.
The real darling of the Fierce Five, Douglas took a break from national competition in 2013 when coaching clashes left her between gyms and her career in limbo. However, at this point, she is well and truly back in the picture under new coach Kittia Carpenter and has been back on the US National Team since 2014.
Although currently being eclipsed in individual competition by Simone Biles and Bailie Key even at the ‘grand old age’ of 20 Douglas still excites on the floor and retains her technical excellence on the bars and beam, making her a good bet to bring some veteran experience to the 2016 Rio team that should serve them well.
Aly Raisman’s road has been somewhat rocky since the triumphs of London as well. Seriously injured during a bar routine just a month after the 2012 Olympics concluded, she was forced to rehab for two years before finally making a return to the US National team in late 2014.
2015 proved to be a far better year for her though and with a new and exciting tumbling routine that wowed at the P&G Championships last August and renewed strength in her injured knee no sensible gymnastics fan would rule her out of a trip to Rio.
18-year-old Maggie was first added to the US National team in late 2013 for The City of Jesolo Trophy and has been a solid competitor ever since, both as an individual and as a team member. She is an especially good technician, an excellent vaulter and a solid choice to become one of the new faces on the 2016 Rio squad.
Bailie Jaye Key
Blonde, blue eyed and bubbly Bailie Jaye Key is just 16 years old but, in her first year of senior eligibility many feel that her ever improving technical skills and her free flowing floor work will be good enough to send her to Brazil as the baby of the team.
2015 has been an especially good year for Key who only missed individual gold glory at several international events because Simone Biles currently seems to be unstoppable. As teammates, that could prove to be world beaters.
These are just five of the young women to watch for at the SAP Center in San Jose in July when the final team selections are made. Others include former Fierce Fiver Kyla Ross, bar specialist Madison Kocian vault princess MyKayla Skinner and, in news that is great for US gymnastics in general, several more truly talented young women.
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