On Sunday evening, an Olympic dream became reality for six women who will represent USA Gymnastics in Tokyo. The USA Gymnastics Olympic Trials wrapped up in St Louis, Missouri and the team was named.
The United States has won gold in the team event at the last two Olympic Games and intend to defend their title once again this year. The only member of the last Olympic team to return to the trials on the woman’s side was Simone Biles. She claimed five medals in Rio, four gold and one bronze, including a gold medal in the all around competition.
For these games, changes have been made to gymnastics as an event overall. Rather than having five team representatives, teams will send four athletes to compete as a team. The USA is also able to send two athletes to compete as individual specialists. Three team members will compete on each apparatus and all three scores will count towards the team total. This was also the first Olympic cycle without Marta Karolyi, the former team coordinator who held the position from 2001 to 2016.
Coming into trials, one of the two individual spots was already held by Jade Carey. She was awarded a spot based on her results at the Apparatus World Cup Series over the past three years. The second spot would be decided by the committee. For the team, the top two finishers at the trials automatically earn spots and the committee will pick the other two athletes.
The trials were full of spectacular performances and a few missteps. Jordan Chiles continued her incredible run and showed well to finish 3rd behind Simone Biles and Suni Lee. While Biles finished in first place and secured her spot in Tokyo, Sunday night was far from her best performance.
Throughout the night, Biles’ body language was indicative of her frustration. She is the best gymnast in the world and anything less than that level of performance is frankly not good enough for her. After a fall on beam, she used her final rotation on floor to finish the night on a high note. Biles will bring her best in Tokyo, a level of gymnastics unattainable to anyone other than herself. As previously mentioned, 18-year-old, Suni Lee finished just behind Biles to claim a spot on the team.
In 2018, Jordan Chiles wanted to leave the sport of gymnastics. Today, she is a member of the USA Gymnastics team headed to Tokyo for the Olympics. Chiles brings such a positive and fun energy to the team and has been a consistent performer in recent competitions. While she didn’t automatically claim a spot, it seemed like a no-brainer that she would be selected by the committee.
The fourth and final member competing in the team event is Grace McCallum. The 18-year-old from Minnesota was selected by the committee to round out a stellar lineup for the USA.
Mykayla Skinner, 24, will be the oldest member to compete for Team USA at the Olympics since 2004. She was selected as a team alternate for the Rio 2016 Olympics but after finishing 5th at this year’s trials, she will get the opportunity to compete as an individual with Carey.
Four alternates will travel with the team to Tokyo. Kayla DiCello, Kara Eaker, Emma Malabuyo and Leanne Wong were selected for this role.
The USA looks to extend their team gold streak as well as bring home various individual medals. With the Olympics just weeks away, Team USA will look to prepare and perfect as a unit.