After being postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are finally here!
Like many American women, I’ve loved watching gymnastics during the Summer Olympics since I was a little kid. There’s something so powerful about a woman defying gravity in a sparkly leotard and glitter in her hair. After the 2016 US Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Team, known as the "Final Five," dominated Rio, this year’s women’s team is expected to be even better. With Simone Biles returning and five amazing newcomers, this team is guaranteed to make history.
Hometown: Spring, TX
Best Events: All-Around, Vault, Floor, and Beam
Simone Biles is the only member of the 2016 Rio team returning to the 2020 Olympics. She made a name for herself in Rio by earning four gold medals for team competition, all-around, vault, and floor, and one bronze medal for beam. She also has five all-around World Championships to her name, so it’s safe to say that she’s the GOAT of gymnastics.
Biles made history in May for being the first woman to land the Yurchenko double pike in competition, a vault move that’s described as “roundoff onto the springboard, a back handspring onto the vault, and ends with a piked double backflip to the landing.” Nastia Liukin, who won gold in all-around at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is a firm believer that Biles can bring back five gold medals from the Tokyo Olympics. She’s not only beloved for her gymnastics skills, but also her kind personality and charismatic persona. A video of a baby girl smiling at a cardboard cutout of Simone Biles further proves that we all love her and want to see her dominate Tokyo.
Sunisa “Suni” Lee
Hometown: St. Paul, MN
Best Events: All-Around, Uneven Bars, and Beam
Lee came in second place behind Simone Biles at the Olympic trials, making her an instant fan favorite and one to watch in Tokyo. She has one gold medal (team), one silver medal (floor), and one bronze medal (uneven bars) at the 2019 World Championships.
She's known to be a master at the uneven bars, giving Team USA hope to snag the gold in uneven bars, which went to retired Russian gymnast Aliya Mustafina (you might remember her glittery eye shadow) in 2012 and 2016. With the uneven bars being the one event that Simone Biles isn’t favored to win, Lee is Team USA’s best hope for a gold medal sweep. Lee had a difficult year with the Olympics being postponed, a broken foot, and losing an aunt and uncle to the pandemic, but she prevailed and is ready to make a name for herself in Tokyo.
Hometown: Vancouver, WA
Best Events: All-Around, Vault, Floor, and Uneven Bars
Chiles was the breakout star of the Olympic trials, and her third-place finish landed her a much-deserved spot on the Olympic team. With her epic performance at the trials and sister-like relationship with Simone Biles, it’s hard to believe that she almost quit gymnastics in 2018.
Named after basketball legend Michael Jordan, she lives up to her namesake’s greatness with three gold medals in team competition, vault, and floor, and one bronze medal at the 2018 Pacific Rim Championships. Known for her consistent dominance in competitions, it’s the perfect time for Chiles to shine in Tokyo.
Hometown: Isanti, MN
Best Events: Vault, Floor, and Beam
Though Simone Biles, Suni Lee, and Jordan Chiles were heavily favored to make the team during the Olympic trials, mystery surrounded who would be the fourth women to compete alongside them in the team competition. That lucky lady was 18-year-old Grace McCallum.
Alongside her stunning performance at the Olympic trials, she also has quite the medal collection in need of Olympic gold. She won two gold medals in team competition and all-around and two silver medals in vault and floor at the 2018 Pacific Rim Championships, and also won bronze at the US Championships earlier this year. She is a devout Catholic and cites her faith for helping her through tough times and making the Olympic team.
Though only four women will be competing in the team competition, two more women will be competing for Team USA as individuals throughout the games.
Hometown: Gilbert, AZ
Best Event: Vault
Nobody has had a road to Tokyo quite like MyKayla Skinner. She was an alternate in the 2016 Rio Olympics, and refused to let anything get in the way of her Olympic dreams in 2020.
She contracted COVID-19 back in December, which landed her in the hospital and kept her out of the gym for over a month. She credits her teammates for helping her battle through it. In an interview with Hoda Kotb of the Today Show, she said, “I survived. I mean, I wanted to give up so many times. I was like, ‘I don't even know if I can do this anymore.’ I feel like just having these girls, and my family having my back through it all, has really helped me get to where I am today.” Though she won’t be competing in the team competition, it’s safe to say that timing was everything in achieving her Olympic dreams.
Alongside being the eldest woman on the team, she’s also the only married one. MyKayla has a YouTube channel where she vlogs her everyday life (training included) and has 94.7k subscribers. And yes, she’s vlogging her journey at the Olympics, giving fans a behind-the-scenes look into the life of an Olympic gymnast.
Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Best Events: Vault and Floor
Carey was lucky to guarantee her spot on the Olympic team based on her April 2020 performance at the International Gymnastics Federation’s Apparatus World Cup Series, which gave her a spot to compete as an individual.
Carey is also lucky enough to have her dad as her coach, making her the only member of Team USA to have a parent cheer her on in Tokyo. She grew up doing gymnastics at her family gym in Phoenix, and she studies sports medicine and math at Oregon State University. She also has several medals, including three gold medals in team competition, vault, and floor at the 2018 Pan American Championships.
The 2020 US Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Team is going to be one to watch, and knowing a little bit about the women will make it so much more fun! Women’s gymnastics begins July 24 on NBC.
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