Skip to content

USA Gymnastics’ future bright with Rio 2016 on horizon

Oct 9, 2013, 5:19 PM EDT

Simone Biles Getty Images

Martha Karolyi certainly wasn’t lacking confidence after the U.S. women won more than half of the medals at the World Gymnastics Championships.

“We are ready to go for Rio,” she said, according to The Associated Press. “We have some more reserves.”

Start with the stars. There’s Simone Biles, in her first year as a senior gymnast, who won the all-around title in Antwerp, Belgium, last week.

“You can see that fire in her eyes,” 2008 Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin said at the Diana Nyad Swim for Relief event in New York on Wednesday. “Her skills are just through the roof. It’s not just her skills, but it’s the way that she executes them. It’s the Amanar on vault. She got a skill named after her on floor (exercise).”

There’s also Kyla Ross, the youngest member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic champion team, who won three silvers, including in the all-around. Both Biles and Ross are 16.

McKayla Maroney, 17, again showed she’s the best vaulter in the world by defending her title on the high-flying event.

The reserves that Karolyi referred to? Well, there are two sets.

Olympians Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber and Aly Raisman all took time off after the London Games but expressed interest in returning to training at some point. Raisman is already back in her Massachusetts gym.

Nobody has made back-to-back U.S. Olympic teams since 2000, so perhaps the more noteworthy reserves are juniors.

Karolyi “insisted she has several 13-year-olds already gearing up for Rio,” according to the AP.

The top two finishers at the U.S. Junior Championships are too young to compete at the senior level next year. Bailie Key is 14, and Laurie Hernandez is 13.

If history is any indication, they could very well pass Biles and everyone else as the top U.S. all-around hopes by the 2016 Olympics. In the last 10 years, 10 different women have been the top U.S. finisher at the year’s biggest competition.

Look at the last Olympic cycle. In 2009, Bridget Sloan won the World Championship. In 2010, Rebecca Bross was the world bronze medalist. In 2011, Wieber won the World Championship. In 2012, Douglas won the Olympic title.

Neither Sloan nor Bross made the 2012 Olympic team. Neither Wieber nor Douglas was old enough for senior events in 2009 or 2010.

“The turnover is so high,” Liukin said. “I think it is important to take it one year at a time. It’s so hard now to do so when the Olympics has gotten so much more attention, I feel like, in the past few Olympics.”

Liukin would know. She was too young for the 2004 Olympics, entering senior competition in 2005. She took the silver medal behind U.S. teammate Chellsie Memmel by .001 of a point at the 2005 World Championships.

Liukin had to keep her form for three more years before the Beijing Games, while her biggest competition come 2008, Shawn Johnson, was 10th in the junior all-around at the 2005 U.S. Championships. Liukin, then 16, had no idea that a 13-year-old would eventually rival her.

“In ’05, I would say I wasn’t aware,” Liukin said. “It was my first year on the senior rankings, and I was so excited to be there (at worlds). I remember it was in Rod Laver Arena in Australia, in Melbourne. I remember walking into that arena, and it was like 20,000 people, and I just looked at my dad with huge eyes.”

Liukin, now a freshman at New York University, knew better in 2009. She pulled out of the 2009 World Championships before the team was named because she didn’t feel she could compete at her best. She was also well-versed in the U.S. gymnastics landscape, with rising stars such as Bross, who also trained under Liukin’s dad, inspired by Liukin’s performance in Beijing.

“I knew there was a whole new generation of girls wanting to push me out,” Liukin said. “That’s the way I feel like these young girls are. They’re so ambitious.”

Italian gymnast apologizes for comment about Biles

Latest Posts
  1. Rio 2016 Olympics day-by-day events to watch

    Mar 31, 2015, 2:49 PM EDT

    Rio 2016 Getty Images

    The full competition schedule was released Tuesday.

  2. Gabby Douglas’ family gets TV series

    Mar 31, 2015, 9:15 AM EDT

    Gabby Douglas Getty Images

    “Douglas Family Gold” is the working title.

  3. No Great Britain soccer teams for Rio Olympics

    Mar 31, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Daniel Sturridge Getty Images

    England FA couldn’t get backing from the three other federations.

  4. A recent history of U.S. Olympic gymnastics comebacks

    Mar 30, 2015, 3:16 PM EDT

    Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman Getty Images

    Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman are attempting what six other Olympic medalists before them failed.

  5. Justin Gatlin: I’m the guy to beat right now

    Mar 30, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    AP AP

    Gatlin may have gotten an up-close look at his biggest U.S. threat on Saturday.

  6. Manu Ginobili won’t play in FIBA Americas, reports say

    Mar 30, 2015, 9:27 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Argentina is in jeopardy of not qualifying for the Rio Olympics.

  7. Gwen Jorgensen wins seventh straight World Triathlon Series event

    Mar 28, 2015, 10:24 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    It marked Jorgensen’s largest margin of victory in her World Triathlon Series career.

  8. Meryl Davis, Charlie White won’t compete next season

    Mar 28, 2015, 8:42 PM EDT

    Meryl Davis, Charlie White Getty Images

    But they haven’t decided on the 2018 Olympics.

  9. Watch World Figure Skating Championships — 8 p.m. ET

    Mar 28, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT

    Gracie Gold Getty Images

    Terry Gannon, Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir and Tracy Wilson are on the call.

  10. Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman competitive with U.S. teammates in comeback

    Mar 28, 2015, 2:24 PM EDT

    Gabby Douglas

    How they fared against World champion Simone Biles.

  11. Javier Fernandez wins upset World Championship; top American fourth

    Mar 28, 2015, 11:44 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    “I don’t know if it’s going to ever happen again.”

  12. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva wins World Championship; U.S. just misses medals

    Mar 28, 2015, 10:53 AM EDT

    Elizaveta Tuktamysheva Getty Images

    Next year, Tuktamysheva can go for a feat not seen since 2001.

  13. U.S., Canada women’s hockey teams renew rivalry at World Championships

    Mar 27, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    AP AP

    The U.S. has a new former NHL player as head coach, is missing a major Sochi star and hopes to end a losing streak to Canada.

  14. How to watch Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman’s comeback gymnastics meet

    Mar 27, 2015, 10:13 AM EDT

    Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman Getty Images

    The Olympic champions are slated to compete for the first time since London 2012 this weekend.

  15. Yuzuru Hanyu tops World Championships short program; Jason Brown leads Americans

    Mar 27, 2015, 9:54 AM EDT

    Yuzuru Hanyu Getty Images

    The U.S. men are unlikely to secure three spots for the 2016 World Championships.

  16. Madison Chock, Evan Bates take ice dance silver at World Championships

    Mar 27, 2015, 9:53 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    A French couple became the youngest World champions in 40 years.

  17. U.S. women struggle, trail Russian brilliance after World Championships short program

    Mar 26, 2015, 10:14 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Elizaveta Tuktamysheva landed a triple Axel in one of the greatest short programs of all time.

  18. Canadians win World pairs title; best U.S. finish since 2011

    Mar 26, 2015, 10:01 AM EDT

    AP AP

    The last time Canada won a World title in pairs was before the 2002 judging scandal.

  19. U.S. pairs outside top five after World Championships short program

    Mar 25, 2015, 9:44 AM EDT

    AP AP

    A slight improvement could mark the best U.S. pairs finishes since 2002.

  20. Usain Bolt to race individually in U.S. for first time since 2008

    Mar 25, 2015, 9:13 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Bolt’s last appearance in New York produced his first world record.