Olympic Gymnastics 2012: Team USA's 5 Biggest Concerns Heading into London

Emily Bayci@emilybayciContributor IIIJuly 24, 2012

Olympic Gymnastics 2012: Team USA's 5 Biggest Concerns Heading into London

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    The hype is undeniable and Team USA is the favorite for the gold medal in women’s gymnastics. It’s the gymnasts' chance to win their first medal for USA since 1996.

    Upsets are common, though, especially in the Olympics. With such a young roster, Team USA needs to keep on their toes.

    Here is a look at the five biggest concerns that Team USA should watch out for in London.

Too Much Pressure

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    Team USA is indisputably advertised as the favorite for gold.

    It will be a worldwide shock if they fall short.

    This added attention results in news articles that could prove distracting, a mass amount of fans, endorsement details and public scrutiny over everything Facebook, Twitter or Instagram post.

    These gymnasts are already celebrities and haven’t even been near the podium yet.

    Some athletes thrive under this type of pressure, while others crumble. 

    These women are young and, though they have a wealth of international experience, none of them have competed on the Olympics stage before.

    They also have to answer to National Team Coordinator Marta Karoyli, who is known for her high standards and strict methods.

    Will they be able to perform to their potential on the world stage?


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    Jordyn Wieber continuously gets praised for her consistency in all types of situations. She has won the all-around at all different levels, in all different venues. 

    She seems like a brick wall of emotion that cannot falter.

    But what if something happens and the wall crumbles? What if Wieber gets injured?

    Wieber has consistently been in the top three on all four events for Team USA. She will most likely compete in all four events, and she isn't very replaceable.

    Another irreplaceable asset to Team USA is McKayla Maroney, who is on the team because she has the best vault in the world. 

    She has proven consistency on the vault, as I can't even think of a time where she missed it. But what if she does? Team USA is depending on that extra point her vault offers, the point no one else can contribute.

Bars and Floor

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    Bars have been consistently played up as Team USA's major weakness. 

    I think bars is a definite concern, but shouldn't be the biggest one.

    Gabby Douglas made the 2011 world team because of her bar routine. The height she gets gave her the nickname of "The Flying Squirrel."

    Kyla Ross is also a consistent bar worker, with a difficult and clean routine. Alternate Anna Li is a very strong bars worker who can step in if necessary. 

    Bars are Jordyn Wieber's weaker event, but she is still pretty consistent on them.

    Yes, USA is not going to be able to touch Russia in bars; however, they can catch up on vault.

    Floor should be a major concern as the Romanians seem unstoppable there.

    Aly Raisman is USA's only super-strong floor athlete, and she does have one of the highest difficulty values in the world. But she has a history of being sloppy.

    Douglas and Wieber have strong routines, but they're better elsewhere.

    Ross doesn't have a huge difficulty, and McKayla Maroney can do floor, if anything, but she's a vault person.

    Then there's Romania, who has unbelievable depth on the floor. Every member of the Romanian team is a potential Olympic floor medalist.

    That is something Team USA must watch out for.

The Romanians

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    Romania almost seemed a non-factor after the country was left off the podium at World's. 

    However, in recent meets they have proven they will be a force in London.

    Team USA needs to beware of Romania, especially because they are no strangers to Olympic competition.

    Romanians have won a team title in every Olympic Games since 1976, with gold medals at the 2000 Sydney Games and 2004 Athens Games.

    Catalina Ponor, a past Olympic champion, brings experience and prowess on the balance beam.

    Sandra Izbasa is the defending Olympic gold medal winner in the floor exercise.

    Larisa Iordache, Romania's top all-arounder, is a force to be reckoned with, specifically on floor.

    Not many are expecting Romania to win, but they have a roster that can pack it, and I think the team has the ability to unnerve Team USA.

Curses, Curses, Curses

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    It was a historical moment this week when the entire US women's gymnastics team was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated

    The only other gymnast who ever made it on the cover was Mary Lou Retton.

    I'm from Chicago, though, so as a die-hard Cubs fan, I have to get worried about curses, and the SI-cover jinx or curse is one of them.

    The last Olympian to be featured on an SI Olympics cover issue was skier Lindsey Vonn, who entered the 2010 Games with a deeply bruised right shin. Aside from Olympics, there have been tons of other notable instances.

    I get a little worried, but again I'm a Cubs fan. Other people dismiss this as garbage, which it very well may be.

    But if we want to point any fingers if USA doesn't pull through, there's always the cover curse as a last resort.