It’s no joke that the female gymnasts of Team USA are absolutely incredible. With all of the press they’ve gotten in this past month leading up to the Rio Olympics, it’s easy to think that they’re a little overhyped. Well, Team USA just proved all of the haters wrong during the Olympic Women’s Gymnastics qualifications this past weekend.
For those who have missed it, the qualifications lead to three different final events. There are team finals, where gymnasts from the same team have their top 3 scores count for each apparatus. A team requires five members in total, with four competing in each event and the top three scores counting towards the overall team’s score. There are also the all-around finals where the top-scoring 24 athletes (but only two from each country) compete in every event to see who’s the “all-around” best. And of course, there are single apparatus finals, where those who score the highest in each individual event compete just on that event. Team USA not only placed first in the team rankings, but every member qualifies for at least one individual final. Check out the amazing stats below.
1st Event: Floor
The floor is one of the most entertaining events in women’s gymnastics, partially because of the artistic elements required in each routine. The four representatives of Team USA were Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles, Laurie Hernandez and Aly Raisman. All of these women began with a high difficulty score, which meant their near flawless performances were that much more satisfying.
Former all-around champion Gabby Douglas started the event off beautifully with no visible errors from the audience’s perspective. However, she went a little over the allotted time, so the judges gave her a penalty. Still, she scored a great 14.366, ultimately putting her in 9th place for the apparatus. Laurie Hernandez, often called a “human emoji”, gave a stellar performance on floor. Her routine is known to be a crowd-pleaser due to the intensity of her dance movements. She placed 4th with a 14.800.
That’s already a very high score, but teammates Raisman and Biles would beat Hernandez by placing 2nd and 1st, respectively. Raisman has one of the most difficult tumbling passes, showing off six skills in a row (as opposed to two or three) and was one of two getting a score higher than a 15 with her 15.275. Biles beat her by half a point with 15.733. Numbers aside, everyone on Team USA placed in the top 10 for the floor, with Biles and Raisman qualifying to compete in the floor finals.
2nd Event: Vault
The vault is the fastest of the gymnastics events. It focuses on the strength of the athlete as they launch themselves into the air and do incredible twists and turns with their bodies. The same four women who represented Team USA in floor did so on the vault.
Of the four, Biles was the only one who tried out for the vault finals. In order to do so, a gymnast must perform two different vaults; the average of those two scores is then considered rather than just one score. Naturally, Biles’ vaults had some of the highest difficulty scores seen in the Games. So when she executed them nearly perfectly (just a slight hop on the landings), it was clear that she blew her competition out of the water. She got a 16.000 for her first vault and a 16.100 for her second, receiving an average of 16.050. Biles not only qualified for the vault finals, but she placed first in the world with the only score breaking a 16.
3rd Event: Uneven Bars
While the balance beam is generally considered the hardest apparatus, the uneven bars have been Team USA’s weakest skill in the past. The 5th member of Team USA, Madison Kocian, was brought on specifically for her incredible grace on the uneven bars. Hernandez sat out while Kocian, Raisman, Biles, and Douglas performed.
Although Biles is excellent at basically anything she does, uneven bars are not her strongest skill. She scored a solid 15.000, which ranked her at 14th overall. It was Kocian’s time to shine, however, and she showed everyone exactly why she was chosen for the team. She scored 15.866 for her flawless execution of a difficult routine, placing 1st overall. She and Douglas, who scored 3rd with just a tenth of a point lower than Kocian at 15.766, qualify for the uneven bars final. At this point, it’s clear that Team USA is kicking some serious butt as every event has had a USA representative place first.
4th Event: Balance Beam
Possibly the most nerve-wracking sport to watch ever, the balance beam is approximately 4 inches wide and 16 feet long. Gymnasts must jump and spin on the beam, ideally without wobbling or (God forbid) falling off. Before Team USA showed up in the 4th subdivision, so many gymnasts were struggling on the beam. Many fell off, a few more than once, and the scores were sometimes dreadful to look at. Biles, Hernandez, Raisman and Douglas again all compete for this event.
Raisman and Douglas prove that they’re mostly solid on the apparatus, with a few wobbles here and there. They actually tie for 7th place with the same score of 14.833.
Once again, Team USA places two of its members at the top. Hernandez tumbled her way to 2nd place with a 15.366. Not only were her landings solid but her arms, which can help anchor the body, were very strong on every move she made. Biles beat her by a couple tenths of a point, getting to 1st place with a 15.633. Balance beam is an event where no second-guessing is allowed, and these two women were sure enough of themselves to make it to the top. Biles and Hernandez will compete in the individual balance beam finals.
Overall, Team USA blasted the competition out of the water with a total score of 185.238, which is 10 full points higher than the 2nd place team. That’s mind-blowingly good, especially when all the rest of the top 8 teams are separated by tenths of a point from each other. Team USA will compete against China, Russia, Great Britain, Brazil, Germany, Japan, and Netherlands in the team finals. It’s clear that our nation’s prestige in gymnastics is in good hands.
As for the all-around finals, Simone Biles (duh) and Aly Raisman scored the two highest scores for not only Team USA but in the entire competition. Olympic policy states that only two athletes from each country may participate in the all-around final to keep it from being dominated by any one nation, a policy that has caused much controversy and dissent. This is particularly disheartening because Gabby Douglas placed 3rd in the all-around qualifications, just half a point behind teammate Raisman. But she will not be allowed to defend her all-around gold medal from the 2012 Games because of the rule, despite the fact that she has a high 1.5 point lead on the 4th place athlete. Douglas is a good sport about it, despite the disappointment, and always cheers her teammates on.
The women’s team finals air today, starting at 12 P.M. PT. The women’s gymnastics all-around finals air on Thursday, August 11th, starting at 12 P.M. PT. Individual event finals start on Sunday, August 14th at 10am and go on through Tuesday, August 16th. Given how amazing Team USA has proven themselves to be, you don’t want to miss it.