After two days and a lifetime of intense training and competition, the United States named its Fab Five members of the Women’s Olympic Gymnastics team. Reigning world champion Jordyn Wieber and Olympic trials winner Gabby Douglas (who is coached by Liang Chow, Shawn Johnson’s old coach) will hopefully lead their teammates McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Kyla Ross to gold later this month in London. Replacement gymnasts (aka alternates) include Sarah Finnegan, Anna Li and Elizabeth Price. In the spirit of friendly competition, I decided to highlight the Top 5 Fabulous Things about this team and the Top 5 Not-So-Fabulous things.
Let’s start with the cons, because they’re more fun!
1. NO OLYMPIC VETERAN
Neither returning 2008 Olympian Nastia Liukin or Alicia Sacramone made this year’s team, which means all 8 of these women are Olympic virgins. In cases like these, experience is everything. Just ask Alicia; she’ll tell you that the pressure really got to her in Beijing. Let’s hope this group of girls can hold up.
As a side note, I want to mention how heartbreaking it was for me to watch Nastia. She fell twice while performing routines on her best apparatus – the uneven bars. The first night she landed smack on her booty, and the second night she literally fell flat on her face. Now I understand why athletes like to go out on top. This was a horrible way to end her gymnastics career.
2. PRETTY YOUNG THINGS
I know gymnastics is a sport dominated by youth, but the oldest members of Team USA is Aly Raisman. At the ripe old age of 18, I’d say she’s still got some life lessons to learn. Kyla Ross is a mere 15 years old and the other three are 16. They may be dedicated gymnasts and tough competitors, but that doesn’t change the simple fact that they’re teenagers. Remeber when you were a teenager? Horomones, much? Moodiness? Body issues? I’m just saying. No matter how elite you are, you can’t escape time.
3. CAMERA SHY
You could really tell which of these ladies has had media training and who needs to get some – stat! NBC showed clips of previously taped interviews with the contenders throughout the night, and with the exception of Jordyn, who’s been in the spotlight for a while, all of these girls looked everywhere but the camera. Then the icing on the cake was when McKayla compared qualifying for the Olympics to getting a puppy for Christmas. You’re right, McKayla, a puppy is not as life-changing as achieving your dream of representing your country at the world’s largest athletic event that only happens once every 4 years. Or course, then Gabby did the Dougie while being interviewed live, so there you go.
4. THE 5 NON-BLONDES
Alright, so I’m biased toward the fair-haired. But seriously, where are my flaxen femmes? Need I point out that Nastia is blonde? She may have had the worst night of her life at trials, but she won gold in the all-around competition in Beijing. Carly Patterson is also blonde(ish). She, too, won the gold in the all-around competition in Sydney, Australia, in 2004. I’m not prejudiced against those with dark hair. I just wish there was a blonde to represent.
5. YOU’RE NOT THE MAGNIFICENT 7
I’m sorry ladies, but for me, no ‘dream team’ will ever beat the Magnificent 7 of Atlanta 1996. I was 14, and these girls were my heroines. They were the first U.S. team to ever bring home a gold medal in the Women’s Team Competition. And let’s not forget other highlights: Kerri Strug’s 1-fotted landing on the vault? Epic. Shannon Miller’s gold medal for the balance beam? Classic. So no matter how fabulous the Fab Five are across the pond, they’ll never replicate the amazing accomplishments of the Magnificent 7. No pain, no peaches.
Alright, enough nay-saying. Here’s why I think this quintet has a shot at making our country proud.
1. WORLD CHAMPION IN THE HOUSE
Boo-yah! We’ve got the reigning world champion on our team. Which means she’s already beat all y’all once,a nd you can bet that Jordyn Wieber is ready to do it again!
2. VAULTING VIXEN
SoCal Sweetheart McKayla Maroney just so happens to be the defending world champion on this apparatus. So she’ll be looking to up her game and hang on to that title later this month. 1 down, 3 to go.
3. ON THE FLOOR
It was arguably Gabby’s floor exercise that helped her clinch first place at trials in San Jose, Calif., It was powerful, brilliant and flawlessly executed. Man, can she stick a landing! Her progress song choice was a little redundant for my taste, but I applaud her for flipping outside the box.
4. BEAM ‘EM UP
By far the most challenging of the four apparatuses (at least in my opinion), the balance beam is always a little tricky. I don’t know who you can flip, turn and leap while landing on a mere 4 inches of wood, but these women do it and they make it look easy. Two-time U.S. champion Kyla Ross is especially graceful here, and she and Jordyn are predicted favorites in this event.
5. RAISING THE BARS
Wieber made a surprise qualification in this event, but since it’s her weakest, we’ll be relying on Gabby and Kyla to medal. Shouldn’t be a problem. Afterall, Gabby’s nickname is The Flying Squirrel; earned because of her crazy release moves.
What do you think about our nation’s Fab Five? Will you watch and cheer them on later this month?