After an internal selection test in Mexico this afternoon, 21-year-old Alexa Moreno and 20-year-old Ana Lago proved to be the two strongest gymnasts in the country and were thus chosen for the two available spots at the Olympic Test Event in Rio this April. Moreno placed first in the competition with a 53.2 while Lago was close behind with a 52.825.
“I am very happy,” Moreno told the press. “I think I can do better than I did today. I had some mistakes, but I think I’m ready. I can definitely improve in the coming weeks.”
Lago was also mostly happy with her performance today. “I had a small error on beam, but I recovered well on floor, which is my best apparatus, and I’m super happy to get one step closer to the Olympics. I did an easier vault today than I normally do, so when I get home my goal is to add my difficulty back there. I also need to polish my bars and continue to perfect my beam. I came here this weekend with the goal of making it to the qualifier, and now I need to work much harder to get to the Games. It won’t be easy, but with my training and preparation I think I can achieve it.”
The other two in contention for the spots today were first-year senior Nicolle Castro as well as the veteran 2012 Olympian Elsa Garcia. Castro was about a point behind Lago today, earning a 51.525, while Garcia – who was injured during her preparation for worlds last year and ended up unable to compete – was last with a 50.15.
Garcia has been the star of Mexico’s program for nearly a decade after winning four gold medals at the Central American & Caribbean Games in 2006. Though she didn’t qualify for an Olympic spot in 2008, she began making waves a year later with a 12th place finish at worlds and kept improving each year, winning medals at the Pan American Games in 2011 as well as a silver floor medal at the Summer Universiade in 2013. Last year, Garcia swept all five golds at national championships.
But going nonstop for a decade with almost no break has clearly taken its toll on the gymnast, now 26. Both Moreno and Lago should step up nicely in her place, however, and it’s nice to see them earn the shot after missing out in 2012 (Lago was Mexico’s second test event entry that year but lost the Olympic spot to Garcia).
Moreno is strongest on vault, having made world championship finals on the event in both 2014 and 2015, while Lago is a balanced all-arounder with a great style on beam and floor. The two are very closely competitive, so it could go either way this year though Moreno’s high-level vaults could give her the edge.
The Test Event will determine the remainder of all available Olympic spots for teams and individuals this April in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Mexico is eligible to qualify for one individual spot at the Olympic Games this summer.
Article by Lauren Hopkins