December 9, 2016
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US women in position for gold medal sweep in Rio Olympic 2016

US women in position for gold medal sweep in Rio Olympic 2016

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US women in position for gold medal sweep in Rio Olympic 2016
The Americans are sending their strongest gymnastics team yet to the Rio Olympics, one that is all but assured of winning the team and all-around titles and might very well sweep all four individual events, too.It’s definitely possible for Team USA to come home with gold on every event, Madison Kocian said Monday.Consider the lineup. Three-time world champion Simone Biles hasn’t lost an all-around competition in more than three years, and is already considered by many to be the greatest gymnast of all time. Gabby Douglas is the reigning Olympic champion, and was second to Biles at last year’s world championships.

Fellow Fierce Fiver Aly Raisman won gold on floor in London. Kocian was a co-champ on uneven bars at last year’s world championships. And first-year senior Laurie Hernandez is a star in the making, finishing second to Biles at Olympic trials.

No other country can match that wealth of talent even when they’re in prime form, which perennial powerhouses Russia and Romania are not. Russia has been hobbled by injuries, losing London all-around silver medalist Viktoria Komova this spring. Romania didn’t even qualify a full team for Rio, a stunning setback for the team that’s won a medal at every Games since 1976.

That leaves China.

Sure, the Chinese won the silver medal at the last two world championships, but they were so far back they could barely see the Americans. The U.S. won by more than five points each of the last two years, colossal routs in a sport where medals are usually decided by tenths and hundredths.

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In the all-around, Biles is so heavily favored that, if she doesn’t win, it will be the biggest upset in gymnastics history.

Her routines are packed with so much difficulty that she starts the competition a point or two ahead, and rarely does she give anyone the chance to close the gap. Take Sunday night. She fell off balance beam, her second day with a significant error in the event, yet still won by more than two points.
The way she competes, she’s like, ‘All right, I got this.’ Every single time,” Douglas said. “Her gymnastics definitely pushes me to even do more and expect more from myself. I think she pushes everyone to be the best and expect more of themselves.Biles also will be favored to win gold on floor exercise and balance beam, events she won at worlds last year, and vault. That alone will put the U.S. women in position for a gold medal sweep.No team has ever won all six golds since the all-around and individual event competitions were added to the Olympics. But consider that the United States won gold on everything but vault at last year’s world championships.

And Biles, the vault bronze medalist, has upgraded since then.Her new, second vault puts the gold well within her reach.But doing something unprecedented would be an appropriate send-off for Martha Karolyi, who is retiring as national team coordinator after Rio.She doesn’t really talk about results, USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny said. But Martha is the ultimate competitor. She wants the highest level of results that every athlete can achieve.
And if the Americans happen to make some history in the process, all the better.

 

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