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First gymnasts named to U.S. Olympic team


PROVIDENCE, RI - JUNE 12: Rythmic and Trampoline athletes are named to the United States Olympic team during 2016 USA Gymnastics Championships - Day 3 on June 12, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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The first eight members of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team were named Sunday night, including the first rhythmic group to qualify for a Games.

Individual rhythmic gymnast Laura Zeng, trampoline gymnasts Logan Dooley and Nicole Ahsinger and five rhythmic group gymnasts from Illinois are going to Rio.

The U.S. Olympic artistic gymnastics teams will be named in the next month.

The list of U.S. athletes qualified for the Rio Games is now at 181.

Zeng, who was born Oct. 14, 1999, is the youngest U.S. woman to qualify for the Rio Olympic team and three months shy of becoming the second American born in the 2000s to qualify for Rio (Kanak Jha, table tennis).

Zeng finished eighth in the rhythmic individual all-around at the 2015 World Championships, the best-ever finish for an American. In May, she became the first U.S. gymnast to earn a medal at a World Cup event.

Russia dominates rhythmic gymnastics, having won every Olympic title since 2000 and sweeping every individual gold and silver medal at the 2015 Worlds.

The U.S. qualified a rhythmic team for the Olympic group competition for the first time. Its only previous appearance was as the automatically qualified host nation at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

The five-woman U.S. group includes Kiana Eide, Alisa Kano, Natalie McGiffert, Monica Rokhman and Kristen Shaldybin. Three were born in 1997 and one in 1998. Rokhman’s identical twin, Jenny, was named the alternate.

The six gymnasts knew for months that five of them would be chosen for Rio, with a sixth being the alternate. They qualified for Rio by finishing 13th at the 2015 Worlds and being the highest non-Asian or European country.

In trampoline, Ahsinger earned the single Olympic berth after the top U.S. trampolinist, Charlotte Drury, suffered a broken talus on her right foot in training Friday.

Dooley, 28, will be the oldest first-time U.S. Olympic gymnastics competitor since 1972, according to Dooley was an Olympic alternate in 2008 and 2012.

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