Who Will Be America's Sweetheart Next Summer?
The Olympic Games are one year away — but the gymnastics field is already on fire and ready to make you flip.
Considering that the gymnasts who will represent the United States in Rio next summer won't be chosen for another year — a short four weeks before the Olympic Games begin — it might feel premature to start buzzing about the Olympic hopefuls. But the next 11 months are actually the last push after years of intense training for these athletes — and this weekend's national championships face-off is essentially a first look at what may come next summer.
The 2015 P&G Gymnastics Championships kicks off today in Indianapolis, Ind., with the second day (i.e. the Finals) of the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics happening on Saturday evening. Set your DVRs for 8 p.m. on Saturday (live broadcast), which is when NBC will be airing routines from the senior gymnasts, including 2012 Olympians Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman and Kyla Ross. (The other two, Jordyn Wieber and McKayla Maroney, have retired.)
That's right: Three of the gold-medal-winning Fierce Five are attempting comebacks in what's already a competitive mix of young women who essentially shrug at the obstacle course of American Ninja Warrior — because these aren't just elite athletes, they’re extreme athletes. And when you combine this with their bedazzled leotards, ultra-focused demeanors and consistent global domination, it’s no wonder we all bow down every four years. Happily so, because they deserve it.
Among the returning Olympians are several more athletes you won’t want to miss. Namely, Simone Biles is one gymnast you better run to the couch to watch when you hear she’s up next: She's the reigning national and world champion. Maggie Nichols is an all-around threat as well, and it’s good to keep an eye on who does the best on each individual event, since the U.S. often chooses event specialists to fill in the Olympic team, like in the case of vaulter Maroney in 2012. In terms of the Fierce Five veterans, look for Raisman to stick her Amanar vault and try out a new last pass on the floor, for Ross to "redeem herself on bars" and Douglas to upgrade her routines to be competitive with Biles.
We'll know more after tonight and we can't wait to get this flip fest started — because even though we’re wondering who will come out on top, we're already rooting for there to be another five golden girls in 2016!
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