Six serious faces took on the World Podium today as the U.S. Women’s team made their first official foray into the 2014 World Championships. After a week of training and acclimating in Nanning, China, the U.S. women seemed ready for business during today’s podium training. And as has become the norm, they hit routine after routine on event after event.
In 2011, the U.S. women’s program began a new era of dominance in consistency. Podium training, qualifications, team finals, all-around finals, and event finals look pretty much the same. Hit routine after hit routine. Compete, hit, repeat. Of course, there have been a few exceptions, but for the most part, gone are the nail-biting days of wondering if a gymnast is going to fall. Because, they just don’t. Aristotle has said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore is not an act, but a habit.” Martha Karolyi and the rest of the U.S. coaching staff have hit the sweet spot of making a habit of excellence, peaking their gymnasts at just the right time to hit every time on the world stage.
The 2014 U.S. women’s World Championship team contains a number of gymnasts – five of the seven- who have not competed at a world championship level before. Every one of them has competed at an international meet at least once, but in the world of USA gymnastics, many of these girls are virtually untested. Most USA gymnasts begin competing internationally as juniors, and by the time they hit the senior ranks, they have had a number of international meets under their belt.
But you would never have known it from podium training. Each gymnast went out and did what they are trained to do. Hit their routine. There were a few bobbles here and there but only one miss, a fall on beam from Ashton Locklear. Every other routine looked like it was coming from a veteran competitor, and Locklear looked fabulous on bars, the event USA is counting on her for.
Veteran competitors Kyla Ross and Simone Biles have been helping the girls who are newer to the international stage. “I feel like I have helped them quite a bit, me and Kyla have led them through the ropes, and if they are having a down day we know what to say because we have been there.” said Biles in an interview with USA Gymnastics. And though it seems only yesterday that Ross was team baby, she has in fact firmly held the role of team leader the last two years.
And speaking of the team, after a year off from the team competition at last year’s championships, Biles and Ross are excited to compete with the team. “Having the girls’ support and being able to support everyone else is really fun,” said Ross. And though Biles is defending her World All-Around Champion title, she is here to win a team gold. “Winning a team gold would mean everything to me because I am a team person so I think that would be a lot of fun to do. Last year was individuals so you had to just do it on your own, but this year is team so you can do it together and just be proud of everyone.” When asked about her individual aspirations, the bubbly teenager cast them aside. “I don’t think I am very pressured, but a lot of people are pressuring me into being the world champion again, but I just throw it out of my head and think of it as a normal competition.”
The women begin their bid for the medal podiums Saturday, October 4th at 6am EST. USA gymnastics will be livestreaming the qualification rounds for USA, Russia, China and Romania/Great Britain. They will also livestream the team, all-around and event finals in conjunction with Universal Sports. Check out the schedule to make sure you don’t miss any of the action. All livestreams, as well as individual US routines will also be archived on the USA youtube channel, where you can already watch a replay of podium training.