The 2012 U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team is set. The five young ladies to represent America in London are Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney.
As the strongest team since the Magnificent Seven in 1996, these ladies have a great opportunity to capture gold and Olympic immortality together as well as individually. Soon—very soon—the U.S. will take the stage at the most anticipated summer athletic event, the London 2012 Olympics and the competition is expected to be fierce.
How the women stack up against the rest of the competition remains an unknown, but ahead are some matchups between Team USA and some of the international greats. Certainly, Romania, Russia and even Great Britain have strong reputations to uphold.
So, which legitimate contenders outside the U.S. could snatch victory from the girls in red, white and blue? Who would you choose in the following head-to-head matchups?
Compare the following routines and decide for yourself.
Larisa Iordache is often compared to 1976 Olympian Nadia Comaneci and she is a great gymnast, but would not defeat McKayla Maroney on vault.
In fact, there may not be anyone in the world that can soar through the air and land an Amanar like this American. That said, will Maroney hang tough against the Romanian on balance beam? Maroney displayed more confidence during her Olympic Trials’ routine, scoring a 15.000—a great score for her.
Conversely, Iordache wowed the judges with a 15.733 in the qualification round at the European Championships, but reversed her fortune two days later, dropping to a 14.333. Her score was attributed to a fall early on, followed by chronic jitters.
This matchup may come down to which woman can control any nervous knots from mount to dismount.
In a head-to-head competition, this would be a close one. Catalina Ponor has the experience and Aly Raisman has the ability to focus like a champion.
Ponor is known for her prowess on balance beam and floor exercise. Raisman’s beam routine is on par with Ponor’s with both scoring in the mid 15-range in their last outings.
However, Raisman looks stronger on floor while Ponor fell short at the European Championships in May. At 24-years-old, Ponor must bring it to challenge this young U.S. upstart, reputation notwithstanding.
Uneven bars will be the battleground for these two talents.
Gabby Douglas is undeniably at the top as U.S. gymnasts go on this apparatus.
Mustafina, the 2010 World Champion has been plagued with a knee injury, and now keeps her focus on balance beam and bars. Scoring a 15.833 at the European Championships this year, she has proven her proficiency in what is known as Douglas’s best event.
Mustafina has the tricks and the style to defeat Douglas' bar routine. The American will need to focus like never before in London. Every detail will count in this fight for gold.
Anastasia Grishina is the top dog in Russian women’s gymnastics these days, winning the all-around title in May at the European Championships (EC). However, her win is deceptive since Romania’s Catalina Ponor did not compete on bars.
Wieber, the favorite at the U.S. Olympic Trials, fell just short behind Gabby Douglas, but posted consistent scores well into the 15’s, including a 15.350 on bars.
Grishina’s form on uneven bars is tops. Her lines are clean and she knows how to stick a landing. She posted a 15.333 at the EC.
As match-ups go, Grishina may not have the skill set to keep up with Wieber in the all-around, but she could factor in as a threat to both team USA as well as Wieber. Do not forget, the sport is judged subjectively, so depending on which judges saw either woman perform, the results can naturally be somewhat skewed.
At this summer’s Olympics Games the athletes will be judged by the same officials and that may make all the difference. It certainly will make it more exciting!
The contest between Kyla Ross and Great Britain’s Hannah Whelan should be good. Whelan grabbed two bronze medals at the 2012 European Championships in May. Her third place on beam was a first for GB at a major competition.
Both women tend to score in the 14-range, however Ross has improved her bar set in a short span of time, receiving a 15.500 and 15.650 at last weekend’s U.S. Olympic Trials. If Whelan wants to keep up with this rapidly rising, confident competitor, she must step up her game.
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