- Sports and Recreation»
USA 2012 Women's Olympic Gymnastics Team: Meet the Athletes
New! 2016 Team Announced!
See the article USA 2016 Women's Gymnastics Team: Meet the Athletes to learn about the newly announced Team USA in women's gymnastics, who will be travelling to Rio de Janiero in August, 2016.
The 2012 USA Women's Olympic Gymnastics Team Meets President Barack Obama
London 2012 Update
Update: the "Fierce Five" USA women's gymnastics team brought home numerous medals:
- Team gold medal
- Gabby Douglas: won gold in the women's all-around competition, becoming the third consecutive American woman to win Olympic gold in this category.
- Aly Raisman: was the first ever American woman to win the gold medal for individual floor exercise; she also won bronze on the balance beam.
- McKayla Maroney: silver in vault.
London 2012 Olympics
Update: The USA Women's Olympic Gymnastics Team brought home Olympic gold in the team competition, meaning their combined scores in all events totaled more than any other team from any other country at the Games.
The "Fierce Five" female gymnasts who represented the USA at the 2012 Olympics in London were chosen and announced Sunday, July 1, 2012, just after the completion of the 2012 U.S. women's gymnastics Olympic Trials. Marta Karolyi, the women's national team coordinator and wife of famed gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi, was head of the selection committee, which also included Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics, among others.
The Olympic Trials, which were held in San Jose, California, included a total of 15 female competitors. All 15 were highly advanced, senior elite-level gymnasts and top competitors. However, there were spots for only five on the team, so Karolyi, Penny and the rest of the Olympic selection committee were forced to make some difficult decisions.
It seems that for each Olympics, the gymnastics team selection process changes at least slightly. In 2012, one spot on the team was a given. Gabrielle 'Gabby' Douglas secured the only guaranteed spot at the Trials when she earned the highest all-around score of all 15 competitors, just inching past reigning world champion Jordyn Wieber by one tenth of a point. The remaining four athletes were chosen by the committee during a brief closed-door meeting just after the last competitor finished her events.
Many considered this team to have a great shot at winning gold in London, and that is exactly what the team did, bringing home the team gold medal, as well as several individual medals.
2012 Team USA members:
- Gabrielle "Gabby" Douglas
- Jordyn Wieber
- Alexandra "Aly" Raisman
- McKayla Maroney
- Kyla Ross
Alternates, who compete in place of an athlete who becomes injured, ill or disqualified, were
- Elizabeth Price
- Sarah Finnegan
- Anna Li
Read on for a biography on each competitor, as well as watch exciting video of these amazing athletes in action.
In the months leading up to the 2012 Olympics, Jordyn was considered by many to be the best American female gymnast competing at that point in time. Because of her past accomplishments and expertise on all four gymnastics apparatus, followers of the sport considered Jordyn a shoo-in for the Olympic team no matter how she might have scored at the trials. Although Jordyn was barely edged out of all-around first place by Gabby Douglas at the Trials, she was named to the 2012 Olympic team, and rightly so.
Jordyn is a well-decorated gymnast, having won title upon title, including 2011 All-Around World Champion, 2011 U.S. Senior National Champion, 2012 and 2011 American Cup Champion. She won gold medals at the 2011 Visa Championship in floor, bars and all-around, and also took home the bronze in beam. At the 2012 Visa Championships, she again won gold in all-around and brought home a silver medal for her floor exercise.
In 2009, at the young age of 13, Jordyn was sent to compete at the American Cup, a senior elite-level competition, although age-wise she was at the junior elite level. Some gymnastics fans and followers felt it was unfair that she was allowed to compete at this event, but she proved that she was worthy of the assignment when she was named the all-around champion, beating 2008 Olympian and 2009 World Champion Bridget Sloan.
Jordyn is considered a tough, focused, consistent competitor. She competes well on every apparatus, which has helped her win numerous all-around titles.
Jordyn Weiber celebrated her 17th birthday on July 12, 2012, less than two weeks before the 2012 Olympics kicked off on July 27. The 5'-2" gymnast was born and raised in DeWitt, Michigan, where she attended at DeWitt High School. During the school year prior to the Olympics, she completed many of her classes online in order to work them in among her rigorous training schedule.
Gabrielle "Gabby" Douglas
Gabby won the 2012 Olympic all-around competition, meaning her combined scores on all four events were higher than the combined scores of all other competitors.
Gabby Douglas, nicknamed "the flying squirrel" by Marta Karolyi because of the grace and height at which she flies on the uneven parallel bars, had been nipping at Jordyn Wieber's heels for some time before the 2012 Olympics. Gabby, a 4-foot, 10-inch dynamo with a million-dollar smile, won the all-around competition at the Olympic Trials, beating Wieber by only one-tenth of a point. In March, 2012, at the AT&T American Cup, Gabby scored highest in the all-around, but because she was there as an alternate and was not officially entered in the competition, she was ineligible for a medal and the gold went to Wieber.
Gabby made her national debut in 2010 and since then has steadily climbed in rank as she has upgraded her routines to include more difficult skills. Bars are considered her best apparatus.
Gabby was a member of the USA National Team which brought home gold medals from the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo and the 2012 Pacific Rim Championships in Everett, Washington.
Olympic gymnasts must be at least 16 years old in order to be eligible to compete. Gabby was only 15 during the 2012 Olympics, but was eligible to compete because she turned 16 in September of that year. Gymnasts who turned 16 at any point during 2012 were considered 16 for that competitive year.
Like all elite gymnasts, Gabby is self motivated and hard working. In 2010 she realized she needed more intensive training to reach her athletic goals, and convinced her mother to allow her to move away from her home and family in Virginia Beach, Virginia. At the time of the 2012 Games, Gabby lived with a host family in West Des Moines, Iowa, where she trained with coach Liang Qiao.
Gabrielle "Gabby" Douglas
Alexandra "Aly" Raisman
Update: at the 2012 Olympics in London, Aly became the first American woman to place first in individual floor exercise; she also won bronze on the balance beam.
Aly Raisman is an athlete whom many sports-watchers felt would surely be named to Team USA in 2012. Their predictions came true, as Marta Karolyi chose Aly for her incredile focus, grit, work ethic, leadership and strong skills in all events.
Aly is an experienced competitor with a long list of accomplishments at the national and international senior elite level. She was a member of the 2011 National Team, which won gold at the World Championships in Tokyo in 2011. Aly also won individual gold medals in balance beam and floor at the 2012 Visa Championships, among many, many other accomplishments. She and Jordyn Wieber have competed side-by-side at many national and international venues, often together on the USA National Team.
At the time of the 2012 Olympic games, Aly was 17 and living in Needham, Massachusets. She attended Needham High School up until her senior year, when she took online classes so that she could devote more time to training for a spot on the Olympic gymnastics team.
Watch Aly's gold medal floor exercise performance at the 2012 Olympics, below.
Alexandra "Aly" Raisman
Update: although McKayla was, at the time, considered by many to be the world's best and most advanced female vaulter, and her superb performance helped Team USA win the team gold medal, she unfortunately fell during individual vault competition. After a near-perfect first vault (an Amanar), she fell upon landing her second vault, and received the silver medal.
In the summer of 2012, McKayla Maroney was considered to be the world's best female vaulter -- and the odds-on favorite to bring home gold in this event. She is famous for her powerful execution of the 'Amanar' vault, also known as the '2½ twisting Yurchenko,' which at that time was considered the toughest skill being performed in women's vaulting. Although the other four women on the USA 2012 Olympic team could perform this vault, McKayla was considered best at it. (See the video below for McKayla's almost perfect Amanar vault at the 2012 Olympics.)
In addition to the Amanar, Maroney had another ace up her sleeve: a second vault, also considered very difficult, which included a round-off, half-on, full-twisting layout front somersault. It was difficulty upgrade from the second vault she had performed in competitions prior to the Olympics.
Although McKayla is best known for her outstanding vault skills, there is no denying she is a fine gymnast on every apparatus. In fact, at the 2011 Jesolo Trophy in Italy, McKayla won the all-around, beating then-World Champion Jordyn Wieber. In addition to her numerous gold medals in vault, she won a silver in the all-around at the 2011 Visa Championships and gold on floor in the 2010 Pan American Championships.
When she competed with Team USA in the summer of 2012, McKayla was 16 years old and living in Long Beach, California.
Kyla Ross is an international elite-level gymnast with dependable, solid skills. In 2011, Kyla won the all-around competition at the Jesolo Trophy in Jesolo, Italy. Additionally, she was a member of the 2012 team that brought home gold from the Pacific Rim Championship in Everett, Washington. Individually in Everett, she placed first on beam, second on bars and third on floor, which earned her a silver medal in the all-around. In 2012, she also had solid scores at the Secret U.S. Classic in Chicago, Illinois and the Visa Championships in St. Louis, Missouri.
At the Olympic Trials, Kyla placed first on bars, third on beam and fifth all-around.
Kyla Ross is 5'-1" tall and was 15 years old when she competed at the 2012 Olympics. She turned 16 on October, 24, 2012, making her eligible for Olympic competition. Kyla attended Aliso Niguel High School in Aliso Viejo, California.
Alternate: Sarah Finnegan
Sarah Finnegan is a St. Louis native who moved to Kansas City, Missouri for elite gymnastics training. She is one of four sisters, all of whom are gymnasts.
In March, 2012, as part of the USA National Team,she traveled to Italy to compete in the City of Jesolo Trophy in Jesolo, Italy. It was her first international competition. Her team won gold, and Sarah placed third in the all-around. She won a silver medal in beam at the 2012 Visa Championships, and also placed fourth on floor and sixth all-around. At the Olympic Trials, she placed sixth in the all-around and was chosen as an alternate for the 2012 USA Olympic team.
Sarah was the youngest on the 2012 team. She was 15 years old during the Games, turning 16 on November 16, 2012, just 50 days shy of the age cut-off. Like most other senior elite gymnasts at this level, she was home-schooled in order to keep up her rigorous training schedule.
Alternate: Sarah Finnegan
Alternate: Elizabeth "Ebee" Price
In the months leading up to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Elizabeth had just begun competing internationally at the senior elite level. In her first and only international competition before the Olympic Trials, she was a member of the United States team which won gold at the City of Jesolo Trophy competition in Jesolo, Italy.
Elizabeth came in fourth in the all-around at the Olympic Trials, However, that was not enough to earn her a locked spot on Team U.S.A. Some who follow gymnastics feel that Marta Karolyi placed Elizabeth as an alternate because she was relatively inexperienced at international competition at that time. Additionally, some saw Elizabeth as a good alternate choice because she had the potential to step in and deliver a solid performance on just about any apparatus, and would do especially well if needed on vault or floor.
In 2012, 'Ebee' lived in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania and trained in nearby Allentown, Pennsylvania. She was born on May 28, 1996, making her 16 during the 2012 Olympic Games. She attended an online high school program which allowed her to train at the gym 40 hours per week.
Alternate: Elizabeth "Ebee" Price
What is the sport called "Power Tumbling?"
If you are interested in gymnastics, you may also be interested in a related sport called 'power tumbling' and also called 'tumbling and trampoline.' Check out my article "What is Power Tumbling and How is it Different from Gymnastics?"
Alternate: Anna Li
At 23 years old and 5'-4" in height, Anna was the oldest and tallest member of the 2012 team. Gymnastics talent runs in her family. Anna is the American-born daughter of two Chinese gymnasts who competed for their home country in the 1984 Olympics. Yuejiu Li and Jiani Wu are now gymnastics coaches who coached Anna and their younger daughter, Andrea, who is also a gymnast. The family lives in Aurora, Illinois and works and trains out of Legacy Elite Gymnastics in nearby Carol Stream, Illinios.
Compared to her Olympic teammates, all of whom in 2012 were teenagers still in or just out of high school, Anna travelled a different path to the Olympics. She was an elite-level gymnast throughout high school, but upon graduation chose to attend UCLA and compete at the collegiate level when the UCLA Bruins women's gymnastics program offered her a full scholarship.
Anna competed for UCLA for four years while earning a degree in history. During her senior year in 2010, Anna helped the Bruins win the NCAA women's gymnastics championship. During her time with UCLA, Anna was an eight-time All-American and won six regional titles. Additionally, she received three perfect "10" scores on the uneven bars while competing for UCLA.
After college, Anna decided to give elite-level gymnastics another shot and returned to Illinois to train with her parents. She won a bronze medal for her bars performances at both the 2011 and 2012 US Championships, and was part of the USA team that won gold in Tokyo at the 2011 World Championships.
In 2012, Anna was considered one of the best in the world on the uneven parallel bars.