Two years to Rio Olympics: Gymnastics storylines
The telltale stat in U.S. women’s gymnastics is this: No American has made back-to-back Olympic teams since 1996 and 2000.
Of the five-member 2012 U.S. Olympic champion team, three have not competed since the London Games. One more hasn’t competed in 2014.
Start with Gabby Douglas, the Olympic all-around champion, who has moved from Iowa to Los Angeles back to Iowa and is now living in Ohio. She returned to a National Team camp for the first time since 2012 this spring but last week pushed back her anticipated competitive comeback to 2015.
Jordyn Wieber, the 2011 World all-around champion, is now at UCLA and hasn’t set a return date, if she returns at all. Aly Raisman, the Olympic floor exercise champion, also hasn’t competed since London, but she aims to return to a National Team camp in the fall.
McKayla Maroney bounced back from an Olympic vault silver medal performance to win the 2013 World Championship on the apparatus. She underwent knee surgery in March but said Saturday that she’s more determined than ever to make the 2016 Olympic Team.
Kyla Ross, the youngest member of the Fierce Five, is the only one who has competed through the last two years. She’s the reigning World all-around silver medalist.
Ross was beaten at the 2013 World Championships by Simone Biles, a powerful 4-foot-8 Texan who draws comparisons to 2008 Olympic balance beam champion Shawn Johnson.
Of course, Douglas, Wieber, Maroney and Ross were all juniors two years before the London Olympics. So the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team could be made up entirely of gymnasts we’ve yet to see perform at major international events.
Every member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic men’s team is still active, looking to return for 2016 and make up for that fifth-place finish.
Sam Mikulak is the reigning U.S. all-around champion, while Danell Leyva, John Orozco and Jonathan Horton each missed chunks of time the last two years with injuries. Horton, a two-time Olympian, is expected to compete for the first time since London at the P&G Championships in two weeks.
The balance of power in international gymnastics remains the same. The Chinese, Russian and Romanian women are still a threat to the U.S., and they’ll try to prove it at the first World Championships team competition since the Olympics in October.
Japan’s Kohei Uchimura won his fourth straight World Championship in the all-around in 2013 and is in the “greatest of all time” discussion at age 25. Japan, though, has been unable to beat China in a team competition at the Olympics or Worlds since 2004.
Major gymnastics events before Rio 2016:
2014 P&G Championships -- Aug. 21-24, Pittsburgh
2014 World Championships -- Oct. 3-13, Nanning, China
2015 P&G Championships -- Aug. 13-16, 2015, Indianapolis
2015 World Championships -- Oct. 23-Nov. 1, 2015, Glasgow, Scotland
2016 P&G Championships
2016 U.S. Olympic Trials