The Latest on the Fierce Five – March 201


Three of the Fierce Five are undoubtedly back as players in the 2015 world of elite women’s gymnastics. Gabrielle Douglas, 2012 All-around and Team Olympic Champion and Aly Raisman, 2012 Team and Floor Olympic Champion are both hoping to make their comeback debuts at the 2015 City of Jesolo Trophy competition. Both have been at multiple national team camps, and are reported to look healthy and ready to compete. Kyla Ross has never left the world of elite gymnastics, and will be looking to continue to contribute to the US team as she has since the 2012 Olympics. Raisman, Ross and Douglas are all working hard to compete at the City of Jesolo Trophy competition at the end of March.

3/5 fierce five roomies- Aly Raisman via Instagram

3/5 fierce five roomies- Aly Raisman via Instagram

“October was my first training camp back,” said Raisman in an interview with USA Gymnastics. “Gabby was literally the only one I knew at October training camp.” Raisman doesn’t know the rest of the national team that well, but they definitely know her. “They are all so nice, but they’re all so young… Training camps now are a little bit different… it’s crazy because the girls now, when they come here, they ask for my picture and I feel like they know so much information about me. It’s crazy but it means so much to me because I was the same way. I remember coming to training camp when Shawn Johnson and Nastia first came back and I was just in awe… I wanted to copy everything single thing that they did. I remember Shawn used to eat these beets (the vegetables) and so I still eat them because she ate them.”

Raisman has all her skills back and is getting into routine shape for 2015. But she is waiting for the first competition of the year to really see where she is at. “I feel like until I compete it is not going to be where I want it to be… You are only as good as your last competition, so I know I still have a lot of work to do and I still have to prove myself.”

“Aly’s skill level is getting higher and higher,” said Marta Karolyi in the same interview. “I was very pleased with her tumbling. She is improving her bars, so I am looking forward to see what is happening. She is extremely enthusiastic about this whole comeback, and it looks like she honestly wants to be there. Realizing she has to fight to make the team, but wanting [it] very much.”

Kyla Ross has without a doubt become the rock and foundation of the US team over the last two years. Karolyi went on to say, “Kyla was always a girl who was very goal oriented, very disciplined and realizes that the every day hard work is what makes you better… Kyla as a person has become more and more confident with the years and the international success that she had and gradually she became a very quiet leader.” Ross is focusing 2015 on the one thing she has lacked over the past few years- increasing her start values. Ross is known for her perfect, high execution scores style of gymnastics. But she knows to continue to be the best of the best, she has to have more difficulty. “I have been focusing on the things I lacked last year, especially focusing on my difficulty and start value.” Ross in fact decided to stay out of the AT&T American Cup this year to give her more time to work on adding new skills to her routines. Check out the whole interview.

After the 2012 Olympics, Gabrielle Douglass honestly didn’t know if she would continue on in the sport. But after going to competitions and seeing others compete, she really begin to feel the desire. Especially to accomplish what no one has ever done before – to win back to back Olympic All-Around titles. “No one has ever done it before, and that is definitely pushing me,” Douglass told USA Gymnastics. “Gabby is an extremely talented girl, said Marta Karolyi, “I love her bar work… We will have to see how she does on these other events. She is one of these girls that needs this environment.. to see what is happening with the other girls, what is everybody doing and get into the rhythm.” When Douglas thinks about her training, half measures will not do for her. “I really want to make it big and I really want to make it better than last time,” she says. Apart from the coveted Olympic title, Douglas does not have any individual international titles to her name. In addition to adding a second Olympic title, she will be looking to add more National Championship and World Championship titles along the the way. Check out the whole interview with Douglas and watch her training.

Jordyn Wieber has now officially retired from elite gymnastics. On Friday before the American Cup, she released an update on her decision to retire from elite gymnastics. For anyone who has watched her joy at working with the UCLA team, this comes as no surprise. “It was after enrolling at UCLA when I realized that the juggling act of being a student, team manager and professional gymnast wouldn’t allow me the time that I needed to continue my competitive career. I also began to realize that I felt fulfilled with what I had accomplished in my gymnastics career, and was ready to move on to the next phase of my life,” wrote Wieber. It is so wonderful to see her so full of joy and so fulfilled. “Although I’m leaving the sport I love, the principles it taught — sacrifice, maturity, perseverance and dedication — are traits that will stay with me forever.”

And so that just leaves the most famous of the five, McKayla Maroney. Maroney has been incredibly quiet over the last year. After the 2013 World Championships, she underwent yet another surgery, trying to get her knee up to par for future competition. But Maroney has been absent from the elite scene far longer than her recovery should have taken, with no communication on her status. Recently, International Gymnastics Magazine published a teaser for their April edition with an update and promise of more details to come.

IG caught up with Maroney at the All Olympia Invitational her team was hosting at the Los Angeles Convention Center. She told them that she has had a long bout with adrenal fatigue. “I’m really, really excited for this year and coming back, just because I’m now healed,” said Maroney “I haven’t felt like this in a long time. I’m feeling great.”

In the world of elite gymnastics where youth reigns, it would be quite amazing for all four gymnasts to make the 2016 Olympic team. Simone Biles has been decimating the rest of the world of gymnastics for the past two years, and there are quite a few juniors who are incredibly talented and strong competitors. But the Fierce Five are appropriately named, and there is no doubt that each one will give an incredible fight to make the team.

From Bees to Ants – Simone Biles and the 2015 AT&T American Cup


Everything is different and everything is the same for Simone Biles as she heads into the 2015 AT&T American Cup. The most prestigious international invitational held in the United States will be at the AT&T Stadium (the Dallas Cowboys football stadium) in Arlington, Texas on March 7. Biles and MyKayla Skinner are the two women representing the USA in the competition.

In 2013, Biles competed in this prestigious competition as an unproven senior. Though people knew she had potential, she was far from being a sure thing in the world of gymnastics. In a small, cozy arena in Worcester, Mass, Biles won silver to her American teammate, Katelyn Ohashi. Fast forward two years: a new outlook on her gymnastics, a new training center, and multiple world championship titles behind her, Biles is coming into 2015 not only as the favorite for the American Cup, but as the gymnast to beat.

Everything is different.

“I’m approaching this competition by knowing what I’m capable of doing, knowing what I’ve done in the past. I want to come out with a really strong start to the year” said Biles at a pre-meet phone conference. “I have actually not competed in anything close to as big as this stadium is. I went there earlier this year for a promotion… I think we’re gonna look like ants down there because the stadium is so big, but I guess you need a big stadium for big gymnastics… I watched the board more than the players. It was huge! I don’t know how it’s gonna to turn out, but I’m excited to see it. ”

After her shenanigan’s with the bee at the 2014 World Championships, Biles must have insects on the brain. Her thought that they will look like ants in such a huge stadium is probably right. But no one will bring bigger gymnastics than Biles. Already touting the most difficulty in women’s gymnastics, Biles plans to bring in two more upgrades to the AT&T American Cup. She has added a release combination- a piked Tkatchev into pak on bars, and will be adding yet another twist on floor, upgrading one of her floor passes to a double layout full-out. Check out her latest work:

Competing near home is also something new. “I’m really excited to compete because I know a lot of my friends and family are going to come. They haven’t seen me compete since one of my first years in elite. There are a lot of people coming out to see me and I’m really excited for them to see me.” Biles, who makes friends everywhere she goes, is also excited to see Jessica Lopez of Venezuela, who she connected with earlier in the year at the Skating and Gymnastics Spectacular.

Everything is the same.

And yet, the At&T American Cup is just another competition. “I’ve had competitions where we go one at a time, so I’m kinda used to it,” she said about the format of the competition. She is also used to televised events: “Sometimes they put us on hold…” When all is said and done, she has been training towards this in the same way she has gone into every other competition. “We just want to do what we’ve always done. After Worlds we did dial down a bit and tried to work new skills and plan out routines, but then we started gearing back up with American Cup coming up. It’s been the same…nothing’s really changed.”

Currently focused on hitting her routines at the American Cup, later this year Biles will turn her attention to more upgrades and making the World Championship team. Biles said her goals for the year are “Adding more upgrades for Classics and P&Gs, and then try to make the Worlds team again and at the end of the year I’ll start over again and see what happens.”

In the world of gymnastics, it is impossible to look at one competition on it’s own. How it fits in to the ever present Olympic question is always a part of the equation. But Biles, like many other elite gymnasts, tries to stay focused on the here and now. “I try not think about 2016 yet, I’m going into this year as I have any other year, trying to do what I always do. I just try not to think about it. We have this whole year to think about it. We have to live in the moment, and thinking of next year kindof scares me, so if anyone brings up the Olympics, it’s not me.”

Biles has been unbeatable for the past two years, winning even with falls and mistakes. Many wonder if any gymnast can ever challenge her as long as she stays in the sport. Two people that have yet to try are returning Olympic veterans Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman. But to Biles, who always focuses so much more on how she loves her teammates than on how they might turn out in the ranks, its the more the merrier. “[Gabby and Aly] look really good, really healthy. I am just so excited for them. I know how bad they want to compete, and I know how it feels to be out for a while, after being out last year for a little while, so I am really excited for them. The look really good.”

Don’t miss Biles and any of the action at the AT&T American Cup. Watch podium training live on March 5 (Women – 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. ET and Men – 2:30-4:30 p.m. ET) and catch the first 90 minutes of competition on March 7 at 11:30 a.m. on attamericancup.com/live and then the rest of the competion from 1-3 p.m. ET Live on NBC (check local listings).

The Latest on The Fierce Five


Exactly two years ago, five young girls made history at the 2012 Olympics. It is hard for any gymnastics fan not to get choked up thinking of that night. And if you are just tuning back into the gymnastics world for the upcoming elite competitions, then undoubtedly the status of each of the Fierce Five gymnasts is on your mind. Coming off of the 2012 Olympics, each gymnast expressed their desire to continue in the sport of gymnastics and make a run at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. And so, the question constantly remains – when are they returning?

Kyla Ross, the youngest member of the Fierce Five has not missed a beat since the 2012 Olympics. She has competed at nearly every major competition since then, and is undeniably one of the USA’s shining stars. Ross is expected to headline both the Secret US Classics and the P&G National Championships this August. She looked great in podium training and well prepared for the season.

McKayla Maroney has also continued to train towards Rio despite four, count them four, leg surgeries since the games. Shortly after successfully defending her World Championship Vault title last year, Maroney took a rest from gymnastics to heal up some knee issues. After having some knee pain at Worlds, she discovered she had tendonitis in one knee and a fracture in the other. Unfortunately rest was not enough and she finally underwent surgery in March. Maroney had six to eight weeks of therapy following surgery, and was released to return to training in late May or early June. She assured people in an interview with International Gymnastics (AWESOME interview that you have to watch!) that she will be working hard to be back for P&G National Championships and World Championships this year. However, she has yet to return to a national team training camp and has not yet released any information about her competition status. Update: In a social media video she made today, Maroney said that she would not be competing this season.“I just want to say how much I appreciate you guys following me, supporting me, being there for me even though I can’t compete this season with my injuries.” She also gave a great interview to USA Gymnastics catching us up on the details of her injuries and her commitment to Rio.

Gabby Douglas made her serious return to training this spring with a return to her former gym in April. After her trial period with coach Chow was over however, she decided that this was not the best training option for her and has set out to find a new gym to make her bid to Rio. She is currently training at Buckeye Gymnastics, however it is not known if she will stay there long-term. Douglas impressed Marta Karolyi at the June National Team Training camp with her level of physical fitness, however Karolyi was hoping to see her compete at the Secret U.S. Classics and the P&G National Championships to help determine if she would be ready to compete at this year’s World Championships according to an interview with NBC Olympic Talk. Douglas is not competing this weekend at Classics, though it has not yet been announced if she will be competing at the national championships later this month. Update: New coach Kittia Carpenter of Buckeye gymnastics confirmed that Douglas will not be attempting to comeback to competition until 2015. Check out the full story here.

Aly Raisman announced earlier this year that she would be pacing her comeback slowly and focusing on attending her first national team training camp after the World Championships in October. A few videos have come out as well as an interview here and there that indicates she is training seriously and working hard, just pacing her return to competition. She will be focusing on 2015.

Jordyn Wieber is the one member of the Fierce Five who has not yet resumed training at the elite competitive level. From all appearances, she thoroughly enjoyed taking a year off from gymnastics and any heavy training to attend her first year of college and be team manager for UCLA gymnastics. Though Wieber has maintained that she is working to stay in shape, she has yet to announce a decision about a serious return to competitive gymnastics. She maintained for the last year that she wanted to try a year of college and then decide what to do. As we are coming up to the start of a new school year, it seems that her decision should be coming soon.

In the current regime of USA Gymnastics, the likelihood of most of these incredible gymnasts being able to represent the USA at two Olympics is slim. The nature of the sport combined with the incredibly successful system that is currently in place makes it difficult for the older gymnasts to compete with the young fresh talent coming up. However, if anyone can do it, the Fierce Five can. With two years to go, there is still time for each of them. Though with the realities of gymnastics, the ticking of the clock is always a loud sound.

Aly Raisman Pushing Back her Comeback


Aly Raisman has been shooting for a return to competition at the 2014 Secret Classics since her return to training last fall. She had taken a full year off from training after the Olympics and has been back in the gym for about seven months, working on a return to gymnastics. In the past, she has said that getting back into training the full number of hours she needs to train to return to her previous level of competitiveness has been her biggest challenge.

Aly Raisman at Best of the US with Johnny Weir. Photo by Aly Raisman (twitter)

And though she has been trying to meet that challenge head on, the wisdom of her coaches has been to take it slow. A pow wow between Martha Karolyi, her coaches Mihai and Silvia Brestyan has led to a decision to wait until 2015 for a comeback to competition.  According to NBC, Raisman said at the Best of U.S. Awards on Wednesday, Martha and Mihai and Silvia Brestyan, my coaches, they all decided just to wait and to take it slow and to not rush. My goals are more 2015 and 2016.”

Her next step toward that goal will now be focusing on readiness to attend a national team training camp after the 2014 World Championships. Many of the gymnasts have said over the years that the training camps and Karolyi can be more intimidating than the judges and big competitions. Raisman seems to echo that sentiment. “It’ll be my first time being at training camp in over two years, so I think it’ll be [Karolyi’s] way of really watching me,So I’ll be really nervous, but I’m working really hard so she can see the improvement.”

aly-raisman

Aly Raisman at the premiere of Bachelorette in Los Angeles Image Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Raisman has been adamant since winning her Olympic medals in 2012 that she wanted to continue to compete and planned to stay in the sport for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Many gymnasts have found the path to returning to the commitment of intense training in the midst of fame and opportunities after winning an Olympic medal to be a difficult one. Raisman is no different, but seems to continue to press ahead with her goal, if more slowly than her fans would like.

 

Aly Raisman Shooting for Classics


After the 2012 Olympics, Aly Raisman made it clear that she wanted to continue on in gymnastics. However, many opportunities led to a well deserved year long rest from training. She resumed her training – at a less aggressive level than most of her life – last fall.

#TBT can’t wait to be back out there.
Alexandra Raisman Twitter Pic

At the 2013 World Championships in October, Raisman confirmed that she was back in training and was hoping to make her elite comeback at the 2014 Secret US Classics. This competition will be held in Chicago, Il on August 2. Gymcastic connected with Raisman in a phone interview back in February to check in on her progress.

“Training’s been going great, I practiced this morning and I then I’m going again tonight. I feel really really good and it’s been really exciting to be watching the Olympics at the same time I’m getting back into the gym because it is such great motivation. I love gymnastics, I look forward to going to the gym every day so  I have been really really happy and I kind of feel like a little kid again in the gym.”

In the interview, Raisman said she is on track to compete at US Classics. The most challenging part has been getting used to all the hours of training again. She is exhausted all the time, but has that feeling of satisfaction. She is still working towards training the number of hours she was training before the Olympics.

This was my romantic valentines date.Things got a bit steaaaamy 😉 #justkidding #ILoveGymnastics Alexandra Raisman Twitter Pic

cortni ‏@cortni_baker  Feb 10 So proud of how well @Aly_Raisman is doing at the gym #dedication #shesback

As to her training, Raisman said that her first few weeks back on the high beam was actually scary. “I forgot how narrow and high it was!” Tumbling on floor has been the easiest to get back, though she thinks it will still be a while before she will be able to do her famous first floor pass.  

Raisman feels like she will be able to come back better than ever. Her time on Dancing with the Stars helped her gain flexibility and a lot more confidence. Wearing heels all the time also helped her toe point. She feels wiser and more confident and more calm now. Yet she still loves gymnastics and “wants it” as much as ever.

Feeling inspired. #Olympics
Alexandra Raisman Twitter Pic

Check out the rest of the interview. It is 30 minutes of Aly Raisman sitting down and “gym geeking out.” A delightful time that includes her recounting of the evening after she qualified for the All Around at the Olympics and how Jordyn Wieber responded.

Fierce Five- Hall of Fame and Future Twitter Roundup


Today the Fierce Five were inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Though we don’t have any official press releases or coverage yet, here is a twitter round-up of the event.
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Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 9.11.43 PMScreen Shot 2013-08-16 at 8.14.57 PM

Standing in The Hall Of Fame!!!!

AND the name “Fierce Five” is officially trademarked!!! WOW

Can’t believe we are in the Hall of Fame!! Such an amazing honor to share with my team mates. love them to death.

Being inducted into the hall of fame tonight with @kyla_ross96 @gabrielledoug @jordyn_wieber
@McKaylaMaroney ahhhhhhhhhh
Didn’t expect to get so emotional while being inducted into the hall of fame… Feel so lucky to have the best teammates, coaches & family

Is this real life? http://instagram.com/p/dF57LiPuc9/ 

Reunited ❤ #FierceFiveforlife

Being inducted into the Hall of Fame today!!! 🙂 https://vine.co/v/hMl7XE5Y5bv 

Loved sharing that moment with my teammates! #Fierce5

We are now in the gymnastics Hall of Fame! @gabrielledoug @McKaylaMaroney @Aly_Raisman @jordyn_wieber

We are more than just a team! Love u girls 😘 http://instagram.com/p/dF6IyVu4oO/ 

And here are a few tidbits about the futures of some of the Fierce Five.

Inside Gymnastics: Do you see yourself competing through the next Olympics? Gabrielle Douglas: “I do. Yes!”… http://fb.me/1QjK2m6i9 

  • Jordyn Wieber similar but plans on starting UCLA in the fall. Will train out there, see how it goes then maybe _ maybe _ head back to MI.
  • Aly says she’s going to get back into training soon. Not sure when. Had only brief chats with Mihai about plan.
  • Gabby says she’s still w/Chow. Says they’re working on skills. Pointed to next year’s nationals as her return if everything goes well.

Most Memorable Moments: Podium Training


The USA girls began their reign before the competition even began. As in 2011, their dominant performance in podium training foreshadowed an incredible performance in the rest of the Olympics. Some of my favorite moments were of course, a dominant performance on vault and Aly’s bars. I think Aly did the best bar routine I have ever seen from her that day. Pointed toes, feet together – it was awesome!

And apart from Kyla’s uncharacteristic fall on beam, these girls hit every single thing they did on the floor. This is not only incredible, it is intimidating. They sent the message loud and clear that just as in 2011, they came to compete consistently and fiercely.

 

Aly Raisman Rises to the Top


“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride” no more for Aly Raisman, who leaves these Olympics as the most decorated American gymnast including two shiny gold medals of her very own. In today’s event finals, Aly topped off her Olympic journey with a bronze medal on beam, and that very elusive individual gold medal on floor. Finally, Aly stood on top of the Floor Podium with a gold medal, where we all knew she belonged.

There were many tears of joy and moments of heartbreak throughout these Olympics. Aly had her fair share of both. Qualifying in as the first American to the All-Around finals produced both as she reached her ultimate goal and at the same time watched her best friend’s dreams crumble. She went on to lead her team to Team Gold with one of the most dominante performances in women’s gymnastics history. Tears of joy began to flow before she even saluted the judges as she was the gymnast to clinch the Olympic Team Gold. In the All-Around final, Aly was too much of a sportsman to let tears show, but I can only imagine the moment of heartbreak at missing a bronze Olympic medal due to a tie breaker (and an unusual mishap on beam).

Today was a different sort of day. After watching two incredible beam routines by Sui Lui and Deng Linlin of China, all the gymnasts following knew that they had to be perfect to beat them. Even fighting for a bronze medal would require a rock solid performance. And that is what Raisman is known for- giving rock solid performances. As it turns out, her performance wasn’t up to her usual level of perfection, but it was still great. An undervalued D score, which led to a protest, which led to a tie with Catalina Ponor, finally led to a tie breaker that Aly was on the right side of. She finally escaped the vice grip of fourth place and won a bronze on beam. What a beautiful moment.

But apart from a team gold medal, Floor Finals is what Aly came for. She went in to floor finals in 2010 and ended up in that ever present fourth place. In 2011 she upgraded her routine and went into floor finals as the top qualifier. Finally winning her first individual medal, she came away with a bronze. So entering this floor finals as the number one qualifier was a familiar place for Aly. What wasn’t familiar was the performance she gave.

Aly went out and did one of the best floor routines she has ever done in competition. She stuck every pass, did everything with incredible amplitude AND artistry. (For a discussion on what the code defines as artistry, and how Aly fulfills it perfectly, read here). She impressed us, she impressed the judges and she even impressed herself.

In the end, Aly walked away with the gold. After all the hard work, all the almost finishing on the podiums, Aly has a gold of her very own. Here’s to the spectacular, never say die Aly Raisman. We are so privileged to watch you!

The All Around Finalists


The all-around gold medal is the most coveted individual gymnastics achievement. When people refer to the champion, they mean the all-around champion. This Olympic year has an EXCITING all-around competition in store! Most years in women’s gymnastics there is a battle between two, maybe three gymnasts for the gold medal. This year, that is not the case. This all-around final will have five gymnasts who could win the gold medal.

There are twenty- four gymnasts in all who qualified into the All-Around finals. Here are the top five who will be vying for the podium. Who will end up on top is anyone’s guess. Hold onto your hats ladies and gentlemen, this is going to be a wild ride!

Viktoria Komova (60.632/25.7 Qualification)

After losing the gold to Jordyn Wieber last year by the smallest of margins, Viktoria comes into these Olympics ready to do battle – and win.  Her slight form hides the incredible power underneath. She dances like a ballerina, vaults with power and grace, swings bars like she was meant to live life in the trees and tumbles on the beam as if she was light as a feather.

Viktoria debuted her amanar for the first time in her senior career during qualifications. Adding that to her arsenal along with one of the most difficult, perfectly executed bar routines in the world right now gave her the edge she needed to qualify in first. Her beam and floor routines are both exquisite, but not very consistent. She tends to either hit or miss on beam and is often plagued with low landings on floor.  She will have to bring her best to keep her place at the top of the podium.

Alexandra Raisman (60.391/25.3 Qualification)

Aly is known to be one of the most calm, consistent competitors there is. Long overshadowed by higher scoring teammates, Aly shocked the world and herself by qualifying in as the top American. She comes in with the highest difficulty and most consistency on vault, beam and floor. However, her lower difficulty on bars, along with her poor form on this even is what keeps her from the top of the podium. She was fourth at last years world championships with a horrible mistake on bars.

Aly did the best vault of her career in qualifications, cleaning up her form issues and landing with just a small hop.  She did the best bars routine she has ever done by far during podium training, seemingly to finally overcome her form breaks.  She is generally rock solid on beam, and has scored the highest floor scores in both the team and qualifications.  Overall, Aly does not have high enough difficulty to win gold without mistakes from both Gabby and Viktoria. But her rock solid, consistent performances make her a gymnast you should not count out. After all, as we have seen, anything can happen in the pressure of the Olympic spotlight.

Gabrielle Douglas, USA (60.265/25.3 Qualification)

Gabrielle, or Gabby, has been a rising star this year. Last year, she was known for her high flying bar routine, but her mental game was just not strong enough for her to be an all-around threat. This all changed when she came roaring out of the gate as an exhibitionist at the AT&T American cup. She unofficially (her scores did not count as an alternate) ran away with the gold. Since then, Gabby has been inching away at Jordyn Wieber’s lead in every meet until she finally overtook her by .1 at the Olympic Trials.

Gabby comes in with one of the highest potential start values of the group. She has the physical ability to blow away the competition. What remains to be seen is if she can continue improving her mental game and hit the routines when they count. She qualified in third because of a large error on floor. However, she hit four for four during team finals, and her All-Around score there would have easily won the title.  If everyone brings out their best and they all hit, Gabby most likely wins. She will have to keep control of her nerves to stand on top of the podium.

Aliya Mustafina RUS (59.966/24.7 Qualification)

In 2010, Aliya was a star. In fact, it seemed she was on her way to becoming one of the gymnastics greats. Had we ever seen someone who could vault with the power and amplitude she attained and dance like a prima ballerina on floor? Someone who’s beautiful swing on bars was only outdone by her lightness and sureness on beam. Aliya won the all-around. She led the Russian team to gold. She qualified in EVERY event finals and placed on the podium in all but beam, where she had her only mistake of the entire competition. She looked unstoppable.

Unfortunately, an injury has put a serious roadblock in her path to glory. In 2011, she tore her ACL at the European Championships while performing her famous amanar. Her recovery has been difficult. She has grown and is still not used to her new body. But she has continued to train hard.

Aliya has yet to show the level of gymnastics and performance she attained in 2010 this year. She is not competing with the level of difficulty she formerly attained.  But Aliya has a competitive drive, a fierceness and focus on the competition floor like few others. She has that undefinable quality and mental drive that propels her to the front. Her team loss will only drive her more. I would not be surprised at all if she ends up on the podium.

Larisa Iordache (57.8/24 Qualification)

Larisa’s junior showings made her highly anticipated as the Romanian all-around contender at the Olympics.  She has a charming floor routine, one of the most difficult beam routines being performed at the Olympics, a solid vault and a very decent bar routine.  Her achilles heel at these Olympics has in fact been her heel. She has plantar faciitis in her left heel and has not been able to put in a great deal of training over the past week.

This has definitely shown in bother her qualification and team performances. She has not been on her game. Hopefully the additional days of rest and training will allow her to continue on the trajectory she has been on her entire career – a place on the Olympic All-Around podium.

In addition, Deng Linlin from China qualified into the top group. This group will all compete together, starting on vault.  It should be noted that Larissa did not qualify in this group and will start on bars. Once again, we all want these women to go out and have incredible, hit competitions!

 

 

 

 

Aly Raisman: Tumbling her Way to Tears of Joy


Aly Raisman, the USA Team Captain led her team to a decisive, blow out victory Tuesday night. She contributed in two ways. By performing two great routines on beam and floor and by giving leadership and her calm presence to the rest of her teammates.

The place in the USA’s line up that was potentially the most problematic was Gabby Douglas on beam. As they began to prepare for bars, Aly gave Gabby a more than a pep talk. It was almost a sergeant giving orders that must be obeyed. Nothing negative Gabby. You can do this. Do not let in anything negative.  Gabby has said before that sometimes negative thoughts that she is not good enough or can’t do it creep into her mind. It is usually these thoughts that lead to her mistakes. Seems like it helped. Gabby did a stellar routine.

As Aly is reaching her dreams, the steadfast demeanor she keeps in competition has begun to slip. At each milestone she has reached – making the Olympic team, qualifying into the All-Around and winning a team gold- tears of joy have sprung forth. As Aly finished her floor routine, the last thing USA needed to claim their gold, the tears began to seep out before she even saluted the judges. As they watched the score board she kept mouthing, I can’t believe this.

She believes it now! Aly Raisman your incredible calm, your hard work and determination and your loving spirit have brought you to this point. Now go out tomorrow and reach your final goal – an All Around Olympic medal. We believe in you!