The Rio Olympics don’t begin until August 5, but the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team was announced on Sunday night following the second day of the Olympic Trials. Here’s a guide to who will be representing the USA (and by all likelihood, winning gold) in Rio in just a few weeks:
Simone Biles, 19, Spring, TX:
What’s her deal?: Since 2013, Simone has been the undisputed queen of gymnastics. She has won 10 world championship gold medals (three in the all-around, three for floor exercise, two for the team competition, and two for balance beam) and is the first woman ever to win three consecutive world all-around titles. She’s been undefeated in the all-around since 2013, and she’s head and shoulders above every other gymnast in the world.
So she’s unstoppable?: Pretty much. Even with a very uncharacteristic fall on the balance beam on the second night of Olympic Trials, Simone still won by over two points and sealed her spot on the Olympic team.
What can we expect from her in Rio?: Barring complete and utter catastrophe, Simone should walk away with at least three gold medals–from the team, all-around, and floor exercise competitions. She will be in competition for balance beam and vault medals as well. The sky is the limit for her.
Gabrielle Douglas, 20, Virginia Beach, VA:
Wait, didn’t she compete in 2012?: Yep, Gabrielle is back. After winning the all-around title at the 2012 Olympics in London, she took a few years away from the sport before launching a comeback for the 2016 games. She placed second in the all-around (to Simone Biles) at the 2015 World Championships, and is the first reigning all-around champion to return to the Olympics in decades.
Will she repeat as all-around champ in Rio?: Probably not, but gymnastics is an interesting sport where anything is possible.
What are her best events?: Gabrielle is known for her uneven bars routine well as her floor exercise. She fell twice from the balance beam during the Olympic Trials, but team coordinator Marta Karolyi knows what she’s capable of. Expect her to contribute during the team final in at least two events. She might squeak her way into the uneven bars final as well.
Laurie Hernandez, 16, New Brunswick, NJ:
She’s young!: She is. Laurie was the junior all-around champion at the P&G National Championships in 2015. Since aging out of juniors and into senior competition, she’s held her own and placed third (behind Simone Biles and Aly Raisman) in the all-around at the P&G National Championships in 2016.
What are her best events?: Floor exercise and on the uneven bars are where she shines, although she’s pretty solid on all four events. It’ll be between her and Aly Raisman for the second all-around spot in the finals.
What else should I know about her?: She’s known as the “human emoji” for her very expressive facial expressions. She’s got a great personality and will be very fun to watch in Rio.
Madison Kocian, 19, Dallas, TX:
What’s she good at?: Madison’s specialty is the uneven bars. Madison edged out Ashton Locklear for the uneven bars specialist spot on the team. (Locklear was named as an alternate along with Ragan Smith and MyKayla Skinner.) Uneven bars are where the U.S. has been weakest, but that’s not really saying much due to their strength on the other three apparatuses. Madison was part of a historic four-way tie at the 2015 World Championships in the uneven bars final, making her co-world champion on the event.
Where else will we be seeing her?: Possibly on the balance beam, but Kocian knows that she’s there to do the uneven bars. She may very well medal in the apparatus final, but there’s tough competition from Russia, China, and the United Kingdom.
Aly Raisman, 22, Needham, MA:
Aly is back from 2012 too?: The most decorated U.S. gymnast from 2012 is back, and better than ever. After winning gold in the floor exercise at the 2012 Olympics and bronze on the balance beam, Raisman took a spin on Dancing With the Stars, where she finished fourth. She returned to the sport in 2015 with an upgraded floor exercise and promptly was back to her Olympic form.
So she’s a floor specialist?: Not exactly. Aly does the Amanar vault (two and a half twists off the vaulting table) very well, and she is one of very few gymnasts who can execute this vault. Her beam routine is superb as well. It’ll be between her and Hernandez for the final spot in the all-around final and probably in the balance beam final. Stay tuned.
Why’d she want to come back to gymnastics?: In 2012, Aly lost out on an all-around medal after a tiebreaker was applied and she finished fourth. She’s said that she hopes to finally win one in Rio–and it looks as though she’s well on her way to do so.
(All gifs from Tumblr)