Olympic Gymnastics 2012: Why Aly Raisman May Be Team USA's MVP

Emily BayciContributor IIIJuly 20, 2012

SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 01:  Gabrielle Douglas, Alexandra Raisman and McKayla Maroney react after being named to the US Gymnastics team going to the 2012 London Olympics at  HP Pavilion on July 1, 2012 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Aly Raisman is not the poster child of the women’s gymnastics team like Jordyn Wieber, doesn't have a flashy nickname like Gabby “The Flying Squirrel” Douglas, isn't almost guaranteed a gold medal like McKayla Maroney and doesn't have strong dismounts like Kyla Ross.

There is not one flashy aspect of Raisman's gymnastics that makes her stick out above the rest.

But that’s exactly what makes her special, and that’s what gives her the potential to be the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team MVP.

Raisman is the backbone of the team, and her consistency is what Team USA needs to win gold. She can be counted on to hit when it matters most.

She sticks out on bars and floor, and she will bring in some of Team USA’s top scores on those events.

Rasiman won bronze on floor at the 2011 World Championships, and she scored a 120.950 to finish third in the all-around standings at Olympic trials. She is the oldest gymnast on the Olympic team and has the most experience.

She did not necessarily stick out at trials, but she was steady through every routine. Her highest score was a 15.5 on floor exercise, and she scored a 15.4 on balance beam and 15.3 on vault.

“You always can trust her in the competition, and that quality is so important in the team finals,” said Martha Karolyi, the women’s national team coordinator in a New York Times interview. “You want to have somebody whom you trust, maybe even if she’s scoring a 10th lower than someone else, you can be sure that she will perform when the pressure is at the highest.”

At last year's World Championships, after veteran Alicia Sacramone tore her Achilles’ tendon, Raisman delivered the last-minute pep talk before the team won gold:

“When you look at Aly in particular, she’s become the veteran of this new generation, and I think she’s learned from Alicia (Sacramone) that she can have a very important leadership role on this team,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics in an interview with Fox Sports. “She was very instrumental in keeping the team together emotionally and mentally last year when we lost Alicia, and Aly really stepped into that role very well and very naturally.”

Raisman can be counted on to not crack under the pressure in London. She is going to stick out as a leader on a very young team. She may not win any individual medals, but she will propel the team to gold.

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