Kyla Ross is often overlooked on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team.
It’s no shock that she was the last pick for the five-woman roster, and it’s safe to say that in the midst of stars like Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber, she probably won’t make a memorable impact.
When it comes down to it, it’s not a bold prediction to say that Ross may come through as the underdog who dominates for Team USA.
At 15, Ross is the youngest competitor of the entire 530-person American field. She seems well beyond her years, often acting with more poise than her teammates. When the women were named to the Olympic team, Ross was the only one of the five who was not bawling.
“She’s just not a crier,” said McKayla Maroney, world vault champion and Ross's best friend for a decade, told the Associated Press. “She’s just not as emotional as everybody else. She kind of keeps things inside.”
Keeping her emotions to herself is what gives Ross the demeanor of a fierce and focused champion, whose dream has always been the London Olympics.
In 2009, Ross qualified to become a junior competitor. She won the all-around at the American Classic and the Visa Championships before qualifying for the U.S. National Team for the first time. From there, she represented Team USA at the Pan American Games in Brazil, where the team won gold.
Last fall, she was too young to compete on the world championships team and had to break into the gold medal-winning American pack. As soon as she was eligible to compete for the U.S. as a senior, Ross made the Olympic team.
At this rate and fueled by her experience, Ross could even be a leader on the 2016 team.
Ross’s main contributions to Team USA will be on bars and beam. She finished tied powerhouse Douglas for first on bars at trials. Her solid execution and consistency are what will be needed in London. I doubt the crowds will faze her, while other gymnasts may be more affected.
Ross also has the ability to step up on the floor and vault. She can land the notoriously difficult Amanar, though she has not yet mastered it.
Her poise and determination will be necessary in London, when the young women will face the burden of the spotlight as the favorites to win.
Ross will rise above that pressure and hold Team USA together.