The pressure is on as London gears up for the Olympics. With only 22 days until the Opening Ceremony, American athletes have been battling it out at trials for a chance to compete. Last Sunday, five young female gymnasts, ranging from 15 to 18 years old, secured spots on the United States? Women?s Olympic Team. From beam to vault to the uneven bars and floor routines, these young athletes proved their prowess during the three-day gymnastics trials in San Jose, California.
Each is different in her strengths, but all have great energy and the drive that qualified them for the Olympic Team. The youngest on the team, Kyla Ross, has elegance and grace ? two qualities that are necessary for the U.S. to defeat Russia and China. Sixteen-year-old McKayla Maroney has tenacity.
Despite suffering from a mild concussion and nasal fracture at the U.S. gymnastics championships in June, she had beautiful form this past weekend, maintaining her title as ?the greatest vaulter in the world right now.? She’s dynamic and quick just like Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas who are both also 16 years old. Wieber has strength, and at 16, is already a national and world champion. She has gone from early lessons at a Mommy and Me gymnastics class to become the current Gymnastics “It Girl,” an American favorite.
But, Wieber?s power did not match Douglas? bravado and daring flips at the trials. In glistening blue and silver, the “Flying Squirrel” ? a nickname Douglas adopted from her high-flying bars routine ? moved rhythmically. Although she was at times unstable on the beam, she finished Sunday with the highest score, beating Wieber by one-tenth of a point.
The oldest member of the team, 18-year-old Aly Raisman, performed a floor routine to Hava Nagila, a Hebrew song that had the audience clapping to the beat as she contorted her body seven times in one tumbling pass.
These elite athletes form the strongest team the U.S. has had since 1996. The U.S. women’s team is historically one of the best in the world, and these young Olympians will prove to be tough competitors in London.
Other teens will lay it all on the line during the 2012 Olympics. Seventeen-year-old fencing star Lee Kiefer will compete in London this month. Ranked seventh in the world in foil, she has been the only fencer to receive individual medals at Senior, Youth and Cadet World Championships and has won 14 gold medals to date.
Fifteen-year-old Katie Ledecky and 17-year-olds Missy Franklin and Lia Neal will also be in London this summer. Ledecky is the youngest member of the U.S. Women?s Swimming Team and has qualified for 800-meter freestyle. Franklin, who won five medals at last year’s World Championships, qualified for seven events at the Olympic trials ? a record. Neal, a rising senior, will swim 400-meter freestyle. She is also the second African American to make the U.S. Olympic Swim Team.
Boxer and high school senior, Claressa Shields qualified for the Olympics in May. The 17-year-old is also number one in her weight class.
Table tennis stars Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang and Erica Wu went from Olympic hopefuls to Olympians in April. Hsing, 16, Zhang, 15, and Wu, 15, will compete as a three-player Olympic team in the table tennis competition this month. Passionate, self-disciplined and ambitious, these teen Olympians are guaranteed to bring their “A” game in London.
Are you excited about watching these young athletes compete in a few weeks?