US Olympic Team Announced

11:23 PM Arabian Punch Front 2 Comments

The United States of America has named their 2016 Olympic team that will be heading to Rio. They come in as the defending team champions with defending individual champions in the All Around and Floor Exercise. Team USA also boasts the three time defending World All Around Champion Simone Biles.

In a team containing returning Olympians and one of the most decorated world champions, it's difficult to figure out who "headlines" the team. We'll start with the athlete of the quadrennium - Simone Biles. Biles started in 2013 as the new kid on the block but proved to be ready for greatness. She won her first all around gold at that year's World Championship and continued to do the same in the following two worlds. She was the first athlete to "3-peat," win 3 consecutive world AA gold medals. At World Championships, Biles has also medaled on every event other than bars though she has made finals or finished top 8. Biles goes in as the heavy favorite for the all around championship in Rio.

One of the veterans of the team is Aly Raisman. Grandma Aly, as the team affectionately calls her, was part of the gold medal winning Fierce Five at the 2012 London Olympics. She will return to the Olympics as the defending floor exercise champion. Raisman also earned a bronze medal on the balance beam. This year showed continued progress from Aly with changes in her balance beam routine to work on shaky connections and an ever explosive floor exercise with her signature pass - 1.5 through to arabian punch front (fun name, huh?). At times, Raisman's confidence seemed to falter but ever the team player, she should be one of the rocks for Team USA in Rio.

The second veteran is Gabrielle Douglas, defending Olympic All Around Champion. Like Raisman, Douglas took about a year off after the London Olympics, another year to get back into competition shape, then had a solid 2015 at the World Championships. Throughout the year, however, Douglas hasn't been as stable as we've become accustomed to seeing. Douglas will hope to make the all around finals again, though it will be difficult, and possibly make finals on uneven bars or balance beam.

Laurie Hernandez is the newcomer sure to steal hearts and get people off their seats in Rio. Known as the "human emoji" and known for her charismatic dance, Hernandez will make her major international debut. As one of the top all around gymnasts in the US, she will hope to compete the all around. She truly can contribute to the team on all events.

Rounding out the team is Uneven Bar World Champion Madison Kocian. Kocian was one of the juniors always on the radar but struggled with injuries throughout her senior career. She did make the worlds team in 2014 where she earned a team gold. She repeated the team gold in 2015 but this time earned an individual uneven bars gold medal. Or not so individual as it was a 4-way tie. Kocian had an injury at the beginning of the year that kept her out but she has come back strong enough to do the all around. She won't be used on all events but knowing that she can be used helped her earn this spot. In additional, Kocian will be hungry for a spot in that uneven bars final and a truly individual gold medal.

Skinner, Smith, and Locklear were named as alternates to the team. Mykayla Skinner is best known for her vaults and floor exercise. If she were called to compete, she would have a decent shot at the vault event final. In addition, on floor exercise she competes an original double twisting double layout. The hardest skill competed by any female athlete.  Ragan Smith is a new senior that has had a fire in her eyes. She had one slip up at P&G Championships but otherwise has done well enough to impress the selection committee. Ashton Locklear, a member of the Lumbee tribe, rounds out the alternates. Known for her amazing work on the uneven bars, Locklear basically had a head to head battle with Madison Kocian for that final spot. If called upon, Locklear's excellent execution on the uneven bars could earn her a place in the vent finals.

Congratulations to all the athletes, coaches, and their families!!! We are excited to watch Team USA in Rio.


  1. Maddie messed up in qual and did not make the ub ef in 2014. It was kyla and locklear.