Jordyn Wieber appears to have emerged as the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team's media darling this summer. The 16-year-old has certainly earned her moment in the limelight, but it would be foolish to discount Gabby Douglas, who could steal the show and grab gold at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Sure, "Wieber Fever" has a nice ring to it, and the Michigan native has established a tremendous track record at this point. A member of the U.S. gymnastics team since 2006, Wieber won the 2011 All-Around World Championship and is a two-time reigning U.S. National Champion.
Douglas has followed her step-by-step recently and appears to have exceeded Wieber in certain events leading up to the Olympics. The two phenom gymnasts are currently entangled in a burgeoning rivalry that has heated up this weekend in San Jose, CA, site of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team Trials.
Both competitors are locks for London, yet it's Wieber who seems to be garnering more attention as Team USA's elite star. Douglas could ultimately end up dictating a much different narrative.
At the 2012 Visa Championships in St. Louis, MO, Douglas missed out on a national championship by two-one hundredths of a point. Wieber took the all-around title with a score of 121.9, while Douglas compiled a 121.7 and placed second.
Wieber's balanced performance—she placed top five in each event—proved to be the difference. However, she didn't actually win a single event.
Meanwhile, Douglas dominated the competition to take first on bars and placed third in the floor event. Douglas' seventh-place finish on beam ultimately derailed her chances to unseat Wieber as national champion, but she may have cleaned up her act in that discipline since St. Louis.
Douglas is currently fifth on beam at the U.S. Team Trials with a score of 14.900. That score is significantly higher than her average at the Visa Championships (14.45) and shows that the Virginia Beach native could be closing in on Weiber's spot on the winner's podium.
Douglas still sits in second place on the all-around scoreboard after Friday night's trial, directly behind Wieber once again. A strong showing in the trial finals on Sunday could vault Douglas into first place and make her a preemptive gold medal favorite in London, where the rivalry will continue
"I love the competition; it makes us do better," Douglas told USA Today's Kelly Whiteside. "She just did perfect routine. You know what? I'm going to do perfect routine."
Recently retired Olympic medalist Shawn Johnson, who was locked in a rivalry of her own with Nastia Liukin during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, believes that both competitors should embrace the ever-increasing competition between them as they chase Olympic fame.
"The rivalry aspect of the sport is always going to be there," Johnson told USA Today. "At the end of the day, we are part of a sport that is team and individual. The hard part is being 16 and learning how to turn that rivalry off when you step into an arena and you're on the same team. That was the hard part of me and Nastia."
In Beijing, it was Liukin who emerged as a gold medalist in the all-around, while Johnson settled for second. The grand prize is up for grabs, and Douglas' development could make the difference as she chases her more experienced 16-year-old counterpart.
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