Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Team Tuesday

Team USA?

With the USA Olympic trials coming up this weekend, there is only one question on everyone's mind - who will make the Olympic Team? 15 girls have made their way to San Jose, California this week but only a third of them will be make the team.

Three of those girls already have Olympic experience having competed in Beijing in 2008. Nastia Liukin, Alicia Sacramone and Bridget Sloan are all trying for their second Olympics, but what are their chances of success? Alicia Sacramone has proved to be the most consistent of the three so far. Competing on vault and beam only, her lowest score of the weekend at the Visa National Championships was 15.100. Bridget Sloan gave a solid effort over all four pieces of apparatus with her highest scores coming on the uneven bars, the USA's weakest apparatus. Then there's Nastia. There seems to be such divided opinion about the reigning Olympic Champion's comeback and her ability to be ready in time. There are many who would give anything to see her in the time and are probably already envisioning her taking a handful of medals. But the more realistic of us are pointing out that although Nastia has shown excellent form on the beam, her scores performances and scores at Nationals were not as good as she would have liked them to be and we are still yet to see a full bars routine from her, which is the piece that the USA really need her on. At her best, 4 years ago, Nastia Liukin was exceptional. Will she prove that she is still exceptional this weekend. All three of these girls still have a lot to prove.

So what about some of the younger gymnasts? Second year senior, reigning World Champion and current two time National Champion Jordyn Wieber has already proved to the world that she deserves a spot on the team. Unless she falls on every routine this weekend she is pretty much guaranteed a spot - and even if she does she's still in with a good shot! The same can also be said for Aly Raisman, the most consistent of the US gymnasts at the present time. She seems to be absolutely rock solid and is adding great scores to her consistent routines. Kyla Ross is also up there with a strong chance of the team. In her first senior year she has worked consistently well. She is also a strong competitor on bars which definitely works in her favour. Then there's Gabby Douglas. I have to admit to having my doubt's about Gabby over the past couple of years. Although I could see that she was a talented gymnast, she simply did not seem to be able to cope with the pressure of the big meets. With Olympic pressure looming, I wasn't sure whether she would be able to sustain her form. Thankfully, I have been proved very wrong. Being given the chance to exhibition at the American Cup and perform with no pressure seems to have made Gabby realise that she actually can do it! Since then she has gone from strength to strength and I have been delighted to see her and her confidence blossom over the last 6 months. With her amazing bars routine and excellent all around scores I believe she only needs to withstand the pressure of these last trials and she will make the team.

One girl I would love to see on the team is McKayla Maroney. I was devastated to hear that she had been injured so close to trials and the Olympics, but thankfully she seems to have recovered very quickly and has made the trip to San Jose. I think that she is a beautiful gymnast to watch and although Marta Karolyi has said that there is no room for a one piece specialist, surely McKayla's stunning vaulting has to be worth it?

Rebecca Bross and Anna Li will both be keen to impress on bars this weekend as both posted excellent scores on this apparatus over both days at the National Championships. They both also competed on beam and neither were as successful on this apparatus. Although bars is where they need to shine a strong beam routine would definitely help.

The remaining four girls are Elizabeth Price, Sarah Finnegan, Sabrina Vega, Kennedy Baker and Brenna Dowell, who placed 5th - 9th respectively all around at nationals. All will be hoping to impress this weekend and up there scores and their ranking in the hope of making the team.

Choosing a team from these 15 girls seems like an impossible task. I know who I would like my team to be, and I'm fairly sure most people have a team of favourites that they would like to see in London. Fortunately, we don't have all that long to wait. Olympic Trials start this weekend running from 28th June - 1st July. Women's Day 1 is on Friday 29th June, 9pm-11pm ET (2am-4am BST) and Women's Day 2 is on Sunday 1st July 9pm-11pm ET (2am-4am BST) and will be live online via NBC. Enjoy!

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