Yep. I was there, and it was awesome. This is my take on what went down.
|You can see Marta Karolyi sitting on the sidelines above the P in Olympic|
retirement from elite gymnastics. I don't blame her. She'll join Brenna at Oklahoma University.
Anyway, Brenna's elite story over the last few years has been a roller coaster. She is best on Floor and Bars. She had her a heart broken at the 2013 Worlds when she made the team, got all the way to China and then at the last minute was not used on a single event. She was named an alternate for the 2014 Worlds and then left elite Gymnastics to compete at Oklahoma University, but decided to come back for one last shot at competing in Worlds and getting a signature skill named after her on floor. After a disastrous 2015 Nationals I didn't event think she would get invited to world team selection camp. Then, shockingly she was named to the team. She got her tumbling skill named after her, but stumbled on floor, fell of bars twice, and was near tears in her post meet interviews. I think that might be enough to make anyone give up, but not Brenna. At 2016 USA Nationals Day 2 she fell on beam and finished 11th overall. I really didn't think there was any way she would make this team, but I find it interesting that after being part of three world teams in a row she finally hits 8 for 8 at trials and doesn't make the biggest team of all. I'm really glad to see her finish on a positive note showing that she is capable of hitting all of her routines. She finished in 10th.
|The chosen ones: Laurie, Aly, Simone, Gabby, Madison (Alternates: MyKayla, Ragan, Ashton)|
Simone Biles had uncharacteristic mistakes on Day 1 and fall on beam Day 2. The thing is, she's human and humans make mistakes every now and then. I'd rather that she get it out now rather than at the Olympics. She still finished 2 points ahead of everyone else because she is just that good and I really need her to do what she normally does and win the Olympics. She is so talented that it would be a shame for her not to win that title.
I was surprised to see Madison Kocian fall on beam because she is usually very consistent but she hit where it counts most for her. Bars. She finished in a solid 5th place to make the team. Out of everyone on the team she has the most classically artistic style and is very pretty to watch. She is reigning three way co World Champion on bars and I'd love to see her take it all at the Olympics.
I was surprised to see a coach missing from the Gabby Douglas camp. I noticed right away that Kittia Carpenter was nowhere to be seen so I googled it and lo and behold it turns out that two weeks ago after a poor showing at nationals she made a "non coaching change change" and decided that she only wanted Christian on the floor because she is getting worn out from all the training and needs a male coach for better spotting now through the Olympics. One coach is allowed at the Olympics, but two coaches are allowed at trials and she's had both all this time so that generic excuse sounds fishy. What a bummer for Kittia to be part of her comeback from the start and then get left at home when it's time for Rio. Gabby has been mostly consistent since her comeback, but she didn't do well at Nationals so her mistakes on day 1, and a fall on beam each day were only mildly surprising just because I had no idea what to expect from her. I was also surprised to hear her mother report that she fractured her knee just before she won the silver medal at World Championships in 2015 and was on crutches for two months. That information was never released by USA Gymnastics. What isn't surprising at all is that she made the team anyway despite finishing 7th and that her Barbie was released the day after. She is under so much pressure. There were a lot of people and a lot of money counting on her making it and I can't imagine how devastating it would have been to fall short.
The Gabby Douglas Controversy
So here's the deal. Even though it may not seem fair given the standings, I think a good case was made for Gabby making the team even though she finished 7th. She's good AA, strong on bars, and has a lot of heart to even attempt to do this again, although she was quoted after Day 1 of trials saying she's "lost her passion." That being said, I don't think she should defend her All Around title. Marta says that they are bringing Gabby to Rio because of the contribution she can make on bars and because if something happens to any other athletes she can fill in anywhere. She is capable of decent scores on all events. To me this screams team player not AA contender, but the fact that she is a big name in gymnastics makes me think it may go a different way. The US essentially has two bars specialists. Madison and Gabby. What that means is that in team qualifications they will need to put Simone, Madison, Gabby, and Laurie up on bars. Simone because she is a shoo in for the AA win, Madison because she is reigning World bars champ and needs to qualify for event finals, Gabby because she is strong on bars. Laurie because Aly is the weakest out of everyone on bars and finished higher than Aly in the AA on every competition over the last year. What that means is that Aly may not have the opportunity to compete for AA finals and that makes me really really sad for her because I think she has a good shot and after being so close in 2012 and doing so well at trials. I'd love to see her have another crack at it. The other option is to not put Gabby up on bars in team qualifications, but if bars was the main reason for bringing her I don't know if that makes sense. Now that I think about it, they might be too scared to put her up on beam too. Either way I think her role should be to help the team not defend her title, but the headline "Gabby Douglas defends her Olympic AA title against reigning World AA Champ Simone Biles" might be too sensational for USA Gymnastics to pass up. Never mind that she has no chance of winning. No one does, if Simone hits. The girls have five days at their home gym before a nine day training camp at the ranch under the watchful eye of Marta Karolyi and it will be interesting to see if anything changes after that.
The consistent performance of Aly Raisman was wonderful to see. I love her determination! She has her weaknesses, but they are far outweighed by her strengths. She was always a rock in competition, but has had some consistency issues since her comeback. It looks like the old Aly is back and she is peaking at exactly the right moment. Everyone on the team looks up to her and I was so happy to see her rise to the occasion and make her 2nd Olympic Team.
Laurie Hernandez has the most awesome showmanship and power on every event. The way she carries and presents herself on each apparatus is so dynamic and she also has the skills to back it up. She is peaking at just the right time as a first year senior and snuck right in there for a well earned spot on the team. We are used to talking about Simone Biles, but I think Laurie stole some of her thunder. The crowd in San Jose loved her so much they chanted her name and the loudest cheers of the night came after her final performance on beam. Overall, Laurie, Aly, Gabby and Simone were the most cheered for gymnasts of the meet. Did you know it can cost as much as 30k to get a family to Rio for the Olympics? Now that she made the team, Laurie has set up a GoFundMe to help get her family to the games. I wonder if she'll make that big decision to go pro.
1. Simone Biles
2. Laurie Hernandez
3. Aly Raisman
4. Mykayla Skinner
5. Ragan Smith
6. Maggie Nichols
7. Gabby Douglas
8. Madison Kocian
They showed the standings after every rotation on day one, but only after the 2nd rotation on day 2. The hard rankings were not likely to match the team selected. I kind of think they didn't want that in our head right before the team was announced because it wouldn't make sense. 4th place Mykayla didn't even make alternate, but 7th place Gabby made the team. 6th place Maggie made nothing, while Ashton who would've been listed last place due to two events was an alternate. I understand that in order to make the best team and keep up with the other countries it can't be based 100% on the AA scores at trials, which are themselves subjective. Three girls dropped out due to injury before trials even began. To survive training, and injuries and work your whole life for something only to not make it because you are Olympic caliber on all four events but the team needs someone who is good on Bars has to be a tough pill to swallow. They all sign off on the selection process, but they really have no choice in the matter. They can train and train, but they only have so much control over their fate. It's not like swimming or track and field where athletes are measured on a hard non-negotiable measure of performance. Time. For gymnasts time is a hard non-negotiable factor as well and they are always in a race against it hoping that it doesn't run out before their Olympic dream.
NBC put everything on lock down and would not allow professional camera equipment including any camera with a detachable lens so I didn't bring my DSLR camera. I thought about risking it, but I actually saw someone get told to "check" their DSLR before entry for pick it up later so I'm glad I didn't bother. We were sitting closest to beam so had the best view of that event.
|Simone warming up Beam|
|Aly finishing Bars|
|Gabby competing on floor|
|We loved it!!!|