US Olympic Gymnastics Team 2012: Fewer Than 3 All-Around Medals Is Unacceptable
There are high hopes for the U.S. team in London, and coming back without two individual all-around medals and a team all-around would be a huge disappointment for fans.
After Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson took gold and silver in the individual competition in Beijing, American fans have become spoiled. We expect our women to be among the best in the world, and many fans have come to expect a team gold as well this year.
These incredible expectations would be too much for just about any other country in the world.
But not for the U.S.
We, as fans, expect Douglas and Wieber to win gold and silver, or at the very least the silver and bronze. Wieber is the reigning all-around world champion, but Douglas was right on her heels. In fact, Douglas was on her heels for years until she finally surpassed Wieber at the U.S. Olympic trials.
These two have been battling for the right to call themselves the best in the world, and while they are not alone, they have become two of the best.
These two couldn't be more different, however.
The smiling, energetic Douglas, known as the "Flying Squirrel," is a fan favorite. She is loved by all who watch her, and it's hard not to root for her. She also specializes in the air, on the uneven bars, where she earned her nickname.
While Wieber is far from a hated figure, she is not quite as beloved as Douglas because she keeps an intense air around her and is rarely seen joking during competition. She is at her best on the floor or the vault, and those are the events that she can dominate.
Even with their conflicting styles, there is no denying that these two are elite gymnasts. They go about their business in different ways, but they are similarly successful and will both be fighting for the individual gold in the all-around competition.
They both expect to be on the podium for the all-around, and as fans, so do we.
While these two will be competing for medals of their own, they will looking to help the team first, as the U.S. women look to capture their second team gold in history (the other coming in 1996).
Last year we learned that not even the two top gymnasts in the world complete a team, as the U.S. took silver despite the efforts of Liukin and Johnson.
This year's team is much deeper than the 2008 team and is more talented, too.
McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Kyla Ross will round out the U.S. team, and they will be looking for medals of their own.
Maroney is a vault specialist who might be the best in the world. She will be looking for a gold in the vault during the Games, and the rest of the world will be hard-pressed to stop her.
A less likely possibility is that Raisman could take an individual medal on the floor. She has an elite routine in the floor exercise and will be trying to get on that podium in London.
However, while these three will be looking for a few individual medals, they will want the team medal first. Because these three are nearly as talented as Douglas and Wieber and because there is not nearly as big a gap between the second and third gymnast as there was in 2008, we should see the U.S. team win gold.
While there are obviously other competitors who could challenge them, the U.S. team should win gold over China and the rest of the field.
By my count, that leaves the goal for the U.S. at three all-around medals. While they can't win a sweep of the individual all-around medals because of the rules, the Americans could—and should—take home three all-around medals.
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