Martha Karolyi Conference Call Live Blog

Welcome to the live blog for a conference call with U.S. national team coordinator Martha Karolyi! Karolyi is preparing to depart for what will be her final Olympic Games before retiring. Refresh your browser every few minutes for updates, the most recent of which will appear at the top of the post.

12:50 pm. Leslie King is back for closing remarks, thanking Martha and the press. Thanks for tuning in!

12:49 pm. “How do you feel about Romania not having a team at this Games?”

“It’s very sad to see a nation who was dominating for several quads not compete. The system was broken. They developed a system in Romania that was very successful, but then I don’t know why, but I think they had conflicts in the organization and with development, but somehow they forgot about the importance of raising gymnasts to be ready for every quad. They pretty much realized that they don’t have enough strong upcoming gymnasts who can try out to make the Olympic team, so the system was broken.”

12:47 pm. I missed the question but here’s the answer…

“We developed a system that works for this country, the semi-centralized training system with a centralized program to maintain the gymnasts staying home and training at their own gyms. It’s not only having the gymnasts but having the coaches who get involved at the elite level. Several teams working together to unite all efforts to be successful and giving fierce competition at the world level is the most important thing.”

12:45 pm. “How does this team compare with 2012? Which countries do you consider the toughest gold medal competition?”

“I don’t compare teams. Each has a uniqueness. This is a strong team, including some experienced girls and newcomers with strong skills and good energy levels. It’s a good combination and it’s working very well. I’m pleased with this team. The top nations like China and Russia, and now Great Britain, these are the strongest countries we’ll be competing with.”

12:44 pm. “Is Gabby Douglas prepared to do the all-around?”

“I forsee that she will do the all-around but we’re not making these decisions yet. But it’s a strong possibility that she will be one of the all-around gymnasts.”

12:39 pm. “Did having family members/guests/an audience at camp a couple days ago help the girls?”

“We had an open training session where we had our verification, which we often do in training camps, so it was certain people who supported our program from the area in Huntsville. It wasn’t a huge amount of spectators, but I thought that it was okay for the girls to get a tiny bit of extra pressure performing in front of the public without being isolated. It went well and I was pleased.”

“Can you reflect on your career? How are you feeling? What’s the biggest adjustment you’ve made over the years?”

“It took several years to build up the system. The most important was what direction you want to go in as a country. Most importantly we never wanted to copy anybody because a copy is never as good as an original. We didn’t want to be the Russians or the Chinese, but wanted to do it the American way based on our girls’ talents. That was very important – we can be very good if we train hard and unite our efforts and have a common goal. That was the most important thing accomplished through the training camps. Also, to raise generations. Don’t think only about this Olympic team. We’re already thinking who are those little girls for the next quads? We have already lined up several of those little girls who are very talented who can pop in during the next Olympic quad. That’s how it happened with Simone Biles, popping in right after 2012. You have to have a system where you’re permanently developing gymnasts and even the coaches’ education. Some young upcoming coaches without that experience learn everything step by step and are able to lead their gymnasts to the highest level of competition.”

“Have you changed any of the composition of Gabby Douglas‘ floor?”

“It includes the same skills. We’re working on perfecting, and on the rhythm of the full-in to back tuck. The Ferrari is getting better and better, and is looking better than Vanessa Ferrari did it.”

12:36 pm. “Can you give us an update on Gabby Douglas‘ progress?”

“Gabby is doing very very good. Her attitude is extremely positive, very open to any suggestions and corrections in her training, and actually I don’t even know if she missed any beam routines in our last four or five days. I’m pleased. It certainly is a work in progress and every day we’re doing improvements, so I’m pretty confident that she will be able to function well.”

“Will there be an Amanar?”

“She is improving. She gets in shape in the last stretch. Most girls were at a higher level at trials, but she’s made great strides and she is really really looking good. I’m thinking that by the time we get to Rio, she will be able to be proud of her second Olympics. There will be no Amanar, but she improved her beam consistency and her bars look excellent at a 6.5 start value. You can’t put everything on one single skill.”

12:34 pm. “How do you hope this team improves on the London team?”

“We’re not doing anything different as we always do. The preparation is always the same, focusing on improvements and building confidence, so we’re not doing different things between one Olympics and the next. The team composition is always different, but there is a general team concept and besides that, we pay attention to different personalities because every gymnast is a different person. We try to take the right approach for every girl and to bring out the best from each of them.”

12:33 pm. “Can you give us clues as to what to expect from the leotards? What role does the leo play in competition?”

“The leos this year all will be in patriotic colors. It’s definitely…we have some great designs, most of them are very sparkly, and we already handed them out to the girls. They were very excited. The leotards are like little prom dresses for the girls, so they’re pleased with them and it will give them a good feeling going out there with a good look and good preparation paired together.”

12:29 pm. “What are your thoughts on Simone Biles and what you’ve seen out of her and the pressure she faces in her first Olympics?”

“She faces the same pressure as anyone going to the Olympic Games. We had to make sure that they don’t feel outside pressure – it should be coming from inside, making sure that they do their best performance and if they do their best performance, what they’re capable of and prepared for, everything will be okay. They don’t need to put any other pressure, and we talk about this very often. The person you want to please is yourself, and if you set high standards for yourself and you put the work behind it, you will be happy regardless of the outcome. You’re not thinking of the outcome, but of the process. If it’s done correctly, you will be satisfied. Simone’s in a good place.”

“What’s so special about Simone?”

“She’s very talented, she’s physically explosive, and she knows how to come out from those very difficult skills. She brought gymnastics up a level with very difficult skills made to look like they’re executed easily. Besides this great talent, behind the performance, it’s a very regimented and dedicated work. Nobody can become a world champion just because they’re born with talent. She is in a very good training system, she regularly comes to camps here, doing the pre-Olympic training focusing on details and refining things…she is a big contender to be on top at the Games if everything goes in the direction we’re going right now.”

12:28 pm. “Can you talk about Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman, and the extra pressure they face as returning Olympians?”

“I honestly feel like it’s no extra pressure. Maybe it’s even more pressure on your first time going to the Olympics. It’s easier the second time mentally because you already know how things go, and what to expect. I feel like it’s an advantage for them to be more experienced and based on that, they can be more comfortable in all kinds of situations. They’re doing a very good job.”

12:26 pm. “About the alternates, what do you expect at these Olympics? How did Ashton Locklear do in your most recent camp?”

“The three alternates are training under Steve Rybacki’s control because I’m focusing 100% on the five team members. We train all together and they do the very same training plan I developed for the team, and if something happened to the team members, based on where we would need reinforcements, we would choose one of the alternates. Ashton is a bars specialist, and the other bars specialist on the team is Madison Kocian. If anything prevented Madison to perform, Ashton has to be in very good shape, which she is. She is working very well and is consistently doing her high-class bar routine.”

12:25 pm. “What were you looking for at the most recent training camp and what did you see?”

“At the training camps we always want to perfect things. At trials, we see the routines, and we see where we can become better. We’re working on details, to come closer to perfection, and based on coming closer to perfecting the routines, we’ll become more consistent. On this base of consistency, the girls’ confidence levels will be very high. Building up the consistency and confidence level of all team members [was the primary focus].”

12:24 pm. “How much of a factor was Aly Raisman‘s leadership on a team with newcomers?”

“It’s certainly good to have a more mature gymnast, both Aly and Gabby Douglas have the Olympic experience, they know what it takes, and they can really help the newer upcoming girls to understand how it works and possibly calm them down if the nerves come. Aly also is a good role model because she’s very dedicated in her training and is always disciplined and giving 100% effort to become a better gymnast.”

12:21 pm. “How do you feel about USA Gym buying the ranch?”

“We’ve had a lease with USA Gym for five years now and it was named as an official Olympic training site, so it’s nice to see that once I’m finishing my job, USA Gym will take over and continue and I think that’s the best way as to preserve the system which proved itself as very efficient, able to produce world class gymnasts and world class teams.”

“Do you have any lineup ideas yet?”

“Yeah, we have a tentative lineup, but it’s absolutely tentative and we will not release that lineup at the moment because most likely, there will be changes as time goes. Usually when we go to worlds, we do the selection much later, but in the Olympic year we have to do an earlier trials so in this period of time we are studying the level of gymnastics, consistency, the potential of scoring high in three-up three-up count, and at a much later date we finalize the lineup based on the actual situation closer to the start of the competition. The final decision is always taken after we complete podium training, which is a big rehearsal for the competition. We test out how they can handle the more pressure situation, which is when we come up with the final lineup.”

12:18 pm. “What do you feel is the greatest contribution you have made to women’s gymnastics since being in this position?”

“I would like to say that really, the system started two years before 2000 when Bela was named as national team coordinator. Bela loved the idea of the semi-centralized training system and at that point, it was a major changed because nothing was organized before that point. The teams were selected from private clubs and it was lacking leadership and organization. In 2000, we could continue improving the system. I think we’re in a very good place, we don’t have to take the gymnasts away from their home gyms or from their families, but getting together on a regular basis every four or five weeks for training sessions with some leadership, directions to the gymnasts…we unite all the coaches and gymnasts and we make them understand that we are strong as we stay together as a team instead of trying to beat our teammates, so it’s a positive atmosphere and a united approach to planning and working on a training plan and preparation plans for major international competitions.”

12:17 pm. “Can you describe what Aly Raisman brings to the team as a gymnast and a team leader?”

“She is a very good gymnast, a very dedicated one, and we really appreciate her contributions, especially working for her second Olympics knowing how much dedication it takes to do the job right. I think the girls look up to her because of this reason, and they elected her in a tight run between her and Simone Biles. She’s a good leader, very balanced, loves what she’s doing, supports the newcomers, and she’s able to help them understand the whole process and gives a good personal example.”

12:16 pm. VP of Media and Communications Leslie King is on the line introducing Martha Karolyi.

12:15 pm. Here we go!

12:13 pm. Listening to hold music at the moment but in a few minutes everything should be live!

12:05 pm. The call is set to begin in ten minutes! I assume most questions will be about the team’s preparation, but USA Gymnastics announced this morning that they are buying the ranch from the Karolyis, so a fair amount could be related to that as well.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

88 thoughts on “Martha Karolyi Conference Call Live Blog

  1. Do you get to ask questions?

    Ask Martha if she would hold a gymnast off an event in qualifications, and still put them up in team finals, in order to allow someone to compete in the AA!

    I know she has done this before..just wondering about the olympics!

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      • I’m wondering, I know she has been scored decently in domestic competitions however here are the last 4 Aly Raisman amanars.




        She’s landed out of bounds on 2 or 3 of them, stepped a .3 step on all of them and stepped out of bounds/on the line on all of them. Same story in this podium training amanar below


        In the Pac Rim Championships before that everything was mess

        She had a good amanar at the secret classic

        But before that at world’s she also had some trouble in qualifications and podium training


        At what point, especially if she struggles vaulting in podium training in Rio, does Aly Raisman’s amanar become more of a liability than an advantage and at what point would you consider downgrading to a vault that she can execute more cleanly, especially that international judges are stigmatized as being less generous than domestic judges?

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        • her vault was like this in 2012 and was fine (relative to Aly) in London. I’m not personally worried about it. Aly has said she she is always more stressed during the trials process. I’m not really going to judge any of her 2015 because she was seriously doubting herself and still in the process of conditioning and coming back. I think now that she has made team, she will perform it better, which just validates the fact that the sport is mostly mental once you have the physical skill mastered. You could be saying the same about Gabby’s beam – when does it become a liability? If it’s terrible in podium training then I could see Marta pulling her from the TF lineup. It will also depend if she’s doing AA. If she is, then I bet we see the amanar in quals. If not, then we may just see the double.

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  2. This is awesome! Is it just you on the call Lauren? How did this come about? Congratulations on all you’ve achieved and the strides you’ve made with all your gymnastics endeavors! I check your site daily, and I appreciate all of your content.

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        • Idk Laurie had inflated scores at Trials and Nationals… I can see why Gabby gets the spot (if she’s got her act together). And then it really becomes Laurie vs Aly (for the bars spot) and you can’t really not let Aly go up (her bars are terrible but her other events are pretty strong). It’s going to be interesting no matter what.

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      • I was really hoping for a Simone, Laurie and Aly battle. I would be happy for Aly or Laurie. Can’t say the same about Gabby. If that happens, I forsee myself not watching the AA comp.

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    • In the Olympic Trials, they broadcasted that USAG will not use Aly for bars period – in qualifications or team finals. That effectively puts Aly out of AA.

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  3. I am still pulling for a Aly & Laurie match up in qualifications…may the best woman win the second spot in AA finals. I mean this as no disrespect towards Gabby…but with her 7th place trials finish, she should not knock out either of these ladies.

    Martha said nothing is finalized yet!!

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    • As McKayla Maroney noted, Marta tells the team nothing is final up until qualificaitons. Then Marta finalizes the team. So there is still time for Aly or Laurie to outperform and make the AA.

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  4. Is it wrong that I want Gabby to do the AA and kick ass? I’m not particularly a fan of hers (Team Nichols here, haha), but if Martha trusts an extremely experienced athlete to go out and perform, why are we doubting her?

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    • because there are two other girls (Aly and Laurie) who have consistently out scored her and deserve it more than she does, but one of the two will get the shaft because Marta wants to put Gabby in at AA.

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      • Depends on what time period you’re using. Yes, Laurie has outscored Gabby recently, but Gabby has a much longer senior track record. If any other country were betting on their experienced players rather than their hot new upstarts, I doubt people would be this upset about it.

        I don’t care who goes up in AA, I just think the brouhaha over Gabby is way overblown.

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        • Yes, however in gymnastics it’s all about the now, not the past and let’s be honest, Gabby has not been delivering in the now.

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        • And that “now” would include whatever’s going on at camp, which we have no idea about, other than Martha saying Gabby is doing great. :shrug:

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        • right; everyone keeps pretending the only “now” was 3 weeks ago… if Martha is saying Gabby hasn’t missed a beam since then, why is there an issue? People are really going to act like Gabby isn’t a strong AAer?

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      • Fairness has nothing to do with the Olympic lineup. It’s about who offers the potential for the highest placement. I think Gabby at her best is likely to score higher in AA than Aly or Laurie at their best. Aly’s scores go down a lot on the international stage. Her beam always gets pummeled because the judges don’t like her iffy connections. Laurie is untested on the international scene, but her vault and her floor are slight liabilities. Let’s be honest about her inflated and delusional Trials scores. Laurie will not get those same scores at the Olympics.

        Gabby doesn’t “deserve” the AA spot due to her Nats and Trials performances. But she has the highest upside. I would be very, very surprised if Marta doesn’t let Gabby do AA.

        At this point, we should all be Team USA. I think Gabby is likely to be AA silver medalist. I can’t say the same for Aly or Laurie (both of whom I adore to pieces).

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        • Gymnastics is weird in the sense that it is both a team sport and an individual sport. Unfortunately, the individual opportunities are all contingent on the qualification round for the team. Because of that it matters so much who gets a chance to compete in that round, and the whole point of the Olympic trials in other sports is to determine who gets to compete. If USAG is not going to have the trials matter then they shouldn’t have them. Nationals is well enough attended and pressure filled enough to serve. Or, they should have had it a little later. What people are so upset about in terms of fairness is that at both of the competitions to supposedly determine the team Gabby didn’t finish in the top three. It is great news that she is performing well at camp, but she was given the benefit of extra time that others were not given. This doesn’t happen in other sports and it rubs people the wrong way. And now, because she was given the benefit of that extra time she is going to get a chance to try and qualify for the AA. The US is going to qualify for the team final (most likely in first place) with or without Gabby’s bar scores in quals. Yes, we will need them in the final to give Simone a rest, but they aren’t needed in quals. Martha’s decisions combined with the way NBC has been using Gabby in promos and their obsessive focus on her during Nationals and Trials makes everything look extremely dicey. The US makes a big deal about fairness in their selection and handling of athletes. Look at Courtney Kupets in 2004. She was injured, too injured to do beam in the team final, but they let her keep her AA spot because she had qualified in the second spot for the team and she felt she could do it. They let Sam Peszak stay on the 2008 team even though she was too injured to contribute anything other than a bars score that they didn’t even need. They could have substituted Jordan in for Gabby for that matter in 2012 and they didn’t because Gabby out performed her in qualifying. These things used to matter and they should still matter. The AA pool internationally is not exactly the most competitive field this year (that would be bars). Lauren has repeatedly said that the second place AA medal will most likely go to whichever is the second US competitor, inflated home scores or not. (And Laurie was not the only beneficiary of inflated scores at Trials.) I don’t think anyone who is upset about Aly or Laurie getting bumped during qualifications would be upset over Gabby getting the nod in finals on a specific event (although please let them both outscore her on FX because I can’t bear that routine), because that is when the team medal is on the line.

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        • Mary, I think Shang Chunsong or Melnikova could beat Aly or Laurie in AA. When picking AA candidates, we are looking at who has the biggest potential. Gabby’s potential is higher than Aly or Laurie’s potential.

          Emily, there is no reason in the world to have the Olympic Trials except to appease NBC. That’s it. There is no other reason. Marta had her mind made up about the team before Trials. I think that’s clear to everyone.

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        • I don’t really think Gabby has more potential that Aly and Laurie. Aly does a harder vault – and though her form isn’t always great, it’s a better skill than either DTY. Gabby may have both of them beat on bars – a couple tenths more than Laurie and obviously more for Aly. But Laurie and Aly are both much better on beam. And Aly kills on floor. Laurie and Gabby are about even there, but I so prefer Laurie’s performance. It’s a toss up and depends on who has the best day. I doubt Shang or Melnikova are going to break 58.5-59. Aly and Laurie can both easily do that depending on how Laurie is scored internationally.

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        • Clearly, and thus they shouldn’t have had them, simple as that. I respect the fact that Martha should be allowed to pick the best team for the constraints of the team format. However, don’t pretend that the trials have any meaning if they ultimately don’t. That’s what is behind the “it’s not fair” comments. Don’t pretend things are fair when they aren’t or people will complain and justifiably so.

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        • We can all bitch and complain. Not saying myself it’s ideal either but guess what Gabby will eventually has to prove her worth against the other AA (Aly or Laurie). If she gets her act together and beat the other one then she deserves it. Otherwise she gets 2percountried out if she can’t hacked it… And that’s it. She is not exactly getting a free pass to the AA EF…..

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        • Yes @WP! The reality is that based on the last year of competition (2015 Worlds to now), Gabby, Laurie, and Aly are basically on equal footing, in my opinion. Gabby has the highest international AA total this year out of the 3 of them and she’s the reigning Olympic AA champion and the reigning World silver medalist, an honor Aly could have had but for her performance in qualifications at Worlds. Aly has struggled since Worlds to put 4 clean routines together in one competition, but she did well in that regard at Nationals and Trials. Laurie has done well all season except for a few bloopers here and there, but she’s untested on the world stage. Whichever two get to compete AA in qualifications with Simone has to earn their spot to the final and any one of those 3 would be favored to win silver should she make the final. Whoever gets it, that person is just as deserving as anyone else and the main hope should be that all of our girls represent our country well.

          As for Trials, Trials do count, but they’re not like Trials for any other sport. For example, a race is a race and it doesn’t matter what you did even two days ago in a preliminary or semifinal heat if you can’t bring it in the final. Gymnastics is as much about what you did 6 months ago as it is what you do today. Simone could have come in last place at Trials and still would’ve made the team because we need her. Period. One or two bad days of competition don’t erase everything else that she’s accomplished any more than two good days erase the fact that someone has always been mediocre. Historically, some gymnasts didn’t even compete at Trials at all because of injuries but still made the team. By some of your logic, Dominique Moceanu and Shannon Miller shouldn’t have made the 1996 team because they were injured and didn’t compete at Trials. They were given extra time to get ready but they deserved it and Gabby didn’t? Martha said that Trials is a test to see where everyone is and what needs to be worked on…it also creates an atmosphere similar to the Games to give the girls a chance to compete under that kind of pressure…but it’s not the end all be all decision-making competition and the ONLY people who have said that are the fans who, for whatever reason, got that idea in their heads and are up in arms about it…and they’re only making that argument now because people want Aly/Laurie to do the AA and wanted MyKayla on the team. I get it, but this isn’t new, so please stop blaming the Trials process or whatever as your reason for being unsupportive of Gabby. Just say you don’t like her or you just like Aly and Laurie better but pleeeeaaaassseeee stop with the conspiracy theories already. It’s done.

          At the end of the day, Gabby has the most significant resume in the AA behind Simone. Like…you guys do realize that Aly Raisman has never won a major international AA title….ever…right? She’s never even made the podium at Worlds. And Laurie hasn’t been tested on that stage yet. Isn’t the argument that it’s not about what you’re CAPABLE of doing but about what you’ve actually DONE? Gabby isn’t known for her consistency but Gabby has proven herself able to do something no one else on this team besides Simone has done…..win. Whether you like it or not, that counts for something.

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        • Grace- I don’t think either Shang or Melnikova would be able to outscore Aly or Laurie if they hit. Shang’s vault and Melnikova’s floor are both liabilities.

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        • @Marie, it is little unfair to use the 1996 Olympic Trials as an example of “favoritism.” Miller was the reigning National Champion from that year, and Moceanu finished 3rd. They petitioned for the right, due to injuries that would be healed (or healed enough in Moceanu’s case) by the time of the Olympics (trials were held June 27-30th and both gymnasts had gotten diagnosed with their injuries at Nationals which were June 5-8th), to use their scores from Nationals as their total score which held up and put them in the top 7 AA finishers. At the time they used a combination of scores from both competitions. They demonstrated within a month of trials that they were not just top 7 in the AA but top three.

          I had written something really long to try to explain why the situation with Gabby feels so wrong to so many people but honestly, it is beating a dead horse at this point. She’s on the team, on her way to getting to compete AA in the qualifications and good luck to her. I’m just not looking forward to all of the crap we are going to have to endure from the terrible trio at NBC in any scenario. If she gets into the final or if she gets 2pered, we will never hear the end of it. They will talk about her at the expense of other equally, if not more, compelling story lines.

          I really hope Laurie gets to compete AA in qualifications. Her bars are certainly better than Aly’s and that’s the only event where there is a question mark. I like Aly but she has had the opportunity to qualify for the AA at 3 world championships (competing in 2) and at an Olympics already.

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        • @Emily well, if we take Gabby’s totals from Nationals and Trials, she’s still top 4 and that’s with her peaking later than everyone else…which she has always done and that was never an issue until now.

          But I agree with the rest of what you said. I’m really sick of hearing about Gabby one way or the other. I’m not even a huge fan of hers tbh but I just hate seeing her be torn to shreds like she’s the worst gymnast ever or something. I get that it’s a combination of things but I’m over it. These are supposed to be Simone’s games and I’d honestly love to see Laurie make the AA final and medal + a medal on beam. Love Aly but she’s never won a major international title in her entire career, even when she should have….never won an AA national championship, either. She’s had more than enough opportunities…Laurie may not see a second Olympics. She may end up like Kyla. Kyla wasn’t top 3 but Laurie hasn’t finished off the podium since her comeback as a junior. If anyone deserves a shot at the AA, it’s her.

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        • Well, it sounds like we can all agree NBC is terrible. I’m planning to watch BBC coverage as much as possible.

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      • Deserve it more based on what? You spout off but lack details or facts. Marta would probably like to have another successful Olympics and what makes you think Marta is Gabby’s puppet?

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    • Also team Nichols! I still hold out hope she’ll do a Brenna Dowell and go back to elite after some time in NCAA. I really want to see her going for the 2020 Olympics!

      But back on topic; I think it’s funny how a lot of US are outraged over the new format for 2020 because individual medals aren’t as good as team gold. Yet people are outraged because someone will lose out on the chance for AA and all of a sudden the team gold would be nothing compared to individual glory. All five of these gymnasts, whether they get to do AA or not will most likely be taking home a gold medal. That’s a good thing and they’ll all be just fine!

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      • Another person on Team Nichols!! I rooted for her SO HARD in 2015 and this year. I think she’s a sweet girl who is a beautiful gymnast (her leaps are to die for). But I don’t think Maggie is ever coming back to elite. She said in her retirement announcement that she dealt with too many injuries. I do not think her body will handle the rigors of elite training better in 4 years.

        In the end, I hope that she continues in gymnastics in a happy and injury-free way. That’s more important than making the Olympic team. However, I’m glad she gave it her best shot. She should be proud of that. (Personally, I think she should have gotten an alternate spot.)

        I think college gymnastics is the perfect place for Maggie. I look forward to the OU squad for the next four years. Maggie and Brenna. Two of my favorite gymnasts on the same team!!

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      • It isn’t quite like that to my mind. Four girls will get a team medal for the U.S., but there is still a two per country rule for the Event Finals. No way is a team made up of the four best AAers not going to have gymnasts capable of qualifying to EFs. So the specialists could go and not even qualify to the final and then not get a team medal.
        I don’t like the next format for that reason and because for four quads they have emphasized specialists and the format is only that way for the Olympics so the team competition will be even less competitive because too many countries build their teams around specialists, not AAers.

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    • I’d like that too, but only if Laurie and Aly showed mistakes in training. I mean, it just seems kind of wrong not to put up the three best AA’s and instead but Gabby up in TF. Gabby will probably do floor and beam in addition to vault, or let Madison Kocian do one floor or beam if she has been doing better. I totally wish it could be a Aly vs Laurie vs Gabby for the second all around spot and still have Madison do bars in QF… That would be awesome, but impossible.

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    • That would make the most sense if all three are looking good at podium training. There’s a built in story with Gabby looking to repeat AA gold (I know she wouldn’t be able to beat Simone, but the media will pretend otherwise and four year fans won’t know that) and with Aly looking to get an AA medal after losing the tiebreaker in 2012. Laurie is consistent and has a ton of screen presence so she’d also be a great choice to try for AA though. But she’s a new senior and not a household name yet. I wish there was a way for them al to have a chance to qualify into the AA final. Any one of them would win the silver.

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  5. Well politics is playing again it looks like gabby will get a free ride again Laurie and aly earned it and deserved it I’m sorry I like lauries dty better than gabby overall Laurie and aly have been better they’ve been pushing gabby down our throats

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    • yep. I’ve so over it. I honestly won’t watch the AA final if Gabby makes it. But beyond that, I’m just sad for Laurie and Aly. Gabby needs her hand held at camp because she can’t self motivate and get her crap done at home. So Martha has to take extra care of her. Such bs.

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    • No kidding. Absolutely ridiculous to force the rest of the girls to peak again and again, while allowing Gabby to skate through on her arse for three meets knowing that she would be held up by Marta. Disgusting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • at this point it’s not even an argument about whether Gabby is a good gymnast. Of course she is. Whoever goes with up Simone in AA is likely to medal, if not win silver. For me it’s about attitude and work ethic. Clearly Gabby has a problem with those things. For Martha to say she’s been good about taking corrections – that means she wasn’t before and that’s ridiculous. I would like to see Aly’s hard work or Laurie’s spirit and enthusiasm rewarded. Those are the types of girls that should be leading a team and getting opportunities.

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      • I really wish Aly and Laurie could, but they’ll probably sit Laurie only because Aly’s REALLY good on all her other events, Laurie was super overscored at trials (though she’s pretty even with Aly when scored correctly), and they’ve beaten Gabby all season and showed more preparedness AT MEETS. Especially Trials, where most gymnasts say is more pressure than the real olympics, and Gabby showed she couldn’t handle that. Gabby seems like a political decision, to put on the team (which I was mad about, but I understand why they would do it.) and to put her in all around finals is like a stab to the heart. It’s just really unfair, and if Gabby had hit all season and showed that she’s in the running for the second all around spot, I’d be fine with it. But she didn’t do that, and just because she did well at camps doesn’t mean she should get the spot. That’s great that she’s doing so well, but Aly and Laurie have earned those spots.

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        • I disagree. They haven’t beaten Gabby all season, just at Nationals and Trials. And, yes, gymnastics is about proving yourself, but I always take issue with “deserve” arguments. All the girls work hard, including Gabby (and Skinner for that matter). You HAVE to work hard in a sport where you could literally break your neck doing virtually any skill. That being said, Marta doesn’t care about potential. If Gabby’s performing well as of late, she’s probably going to be in the AA lineup–because she, at her best, probably beats Laurie and Aly. ALSO, we talk about “proving” oneself; the only person you have to convince is Marta. No one else. Just because we watch TELEVISED meets doesn’t mean the non-televised ones (i.e., training camps) aren’t just as important. Finally, can we stop talking about “feeling” someone’s skills are better/worse? Facts are facts. Basic deductions can be drawn from, say, a comparison of Gabby’s and Laurie’s vaults. Gabby gets height and distance and has solid form. Laurie’s block can be off, and she gets little distance much of the time (if memory serves–feel free to google it). Needless to say, I LOVE Laurie and hope she rightfully becomes a star of these Games, alongside Simone.

          I don’t say any of this to be mean, but the hate for Gabby is pretty unprecedented. Carly Patterson fell twice at Trials, and the gymternet didn’t go on rage mode (granted, the gymternet wasn’t really a huge thing then). Still, Nastia didn’t seem to catch this much flack from her much less successful comeback. Team composition favors 4 proven AAers with one specialist. That’s how Marta did it in the past, and that’s how she’s doing it now. “Proven” competitive history doesn’t include only the 4 meets in our most recent viewing history.

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        • Jesolo was the only other competition where Aly, Gabby, and Laurie all competed and did AA in 2016. Across the five days of competition where they all did AA, Aly and Laurie were better 80% of the time. That seems like a legitimate competitive record to me.

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        • Watching Gabby make the Olympic team was bad
          enough. If she does AA, I feel kind of bad about saying this, but I actually hope she gets Weibered out. And if she makes AA finals then I don’t feel bad at all about saying that I simply won’t even bother watching, and hope that Mustafina, Melnikova, Chunsong, Steingruber and/or whoever will come out of nowhere will beat her off the podium. It’s really disgusting how Gabby has gotten a free ride from the selection committee this entire year, and even more disgusting how Gabby is milking her popularity like a cow and using gymnastics as a way to propel it. It’s disrespectful to the other girls, disrespectful to the olympics and disrespectful to the sport. I don’t care about whether anyone’s on team gabby, gabbys undeniable talent or anything about “potential”. potential doesn’t matter if you can’t bring it out on the big stage. Marta should feel ashamed of herself for putting and undeserving, unmotivated, and self absorbed gymnast on this team, and if she puts her in the AA then she should feel truly guilty. Such a shame.

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      • I agree that it’s not fair to let Gabby have multiple chances to get ready when other gymnasts were not given the same opportunity. I wish Maggie was given the extra time to get into Olympic shape. The rules are different for Gabby. But Gabby is a very special gymnast. I understand why Marta gives her every benefit of the doubt.

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      • Mary, I’m sorry that I’m not following what you mean by saying “five times.” Did the girls compete all around five times? I thought it was just team/AA final and event finals. Even podium training would only make it 2-3 times full AA program.

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        • I was referring to the five days of competition where Aly, Gabby, and Laurie have all competed and done AA this year. Jesolo, the two days of Nationals, and the two days of Trials.

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        • @Mary. Thank you for the clarification. It is true that Laurie and Aly have come out on top of those meets, but the fact remains that Gabby’s not going for AA, at least in Marta’s eyes. She’s going for bars. She may compete AA by default–as her doing bars in QF prevents Aly or Laurie from doing so–but that’s a coincidence. Marta probably doesn’t want to use Madison on anything else, so Gabby, quite luckily, to be sure, gets to do AA. But you’re right. They have been beating her. Still, she’s going as a specialist with an asterisk. I think the original thread was about how Gabby somehow gets priority over Laurie and Aly. I wouldn’t say that’s the case. Gabby just happens to be the country’s third best bar worker with the bonus of AA capacity, a built-in alternate–Marta’s favorite type of alternate. Marta know the US girls, whomever they are, should both end up on the podium. At her peak, Gabby is about even with Aly/Laurie. So Marta probably isn’t too worried about AA. They’re interchangeable. Gabby gets the nod for bars, not some nefarious plot to make a Oly Champ-World Champ showdown. It just worked out for her this time. Not to mention that Marta usually takes the top 4 AA plus a specialist. This team is literally that, so I’m confused as to why it’s so controversial…Forgive me for responding to both your comment and the general theme of the original post; so many well articulated points are getting muddled haha. But I’m happy for all the girls. Gabby’s proven she can beat Laurie and Aly, who’ve both proven that they can beat Gabby. That is depth. It’s harsh that they can’t all compete, but I think, team-wise, Marta is thinking about maximizing QF scores. And that means Gabby doing bars (and, coincidentally, the AA).

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  6. I find it interesting that Martha isn’t focusing on the alternates at camp. I pray none of the girls go down but if they do it’s going to be a lot different for them than if they would have been put in the same training group as the team. According to USAG elite calendar today is the last day of camp so I’m guessing the girls fly out sometime tomorrow and the team and the alternates will part their separate ways maybe their doing this to get them comfortable to who they’ll be training with in Rio. It’s going to be a rough day for the alternates when the team enters the Olympic village and the alternates stay in a hotel.

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    • you seen those dorm beds in the Village? and the leaky pipes, and shorted wires? the hotel rooms are much more comfortable i think…. LOL… I thinkk the alternates got the last laugh in accomodation 🙂

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  7. INDIVIDUAL WAG medal predictions, just to lighten up the mood . We know Oly team gold will go to USA. For silver, China has the edge over an injury-plagued Russia. Bronze, Russia (based on Musty & Melnikova hitting at 2016 Euros) over Great Britain (I have a strong gut feeling Fragapane will mess up beam, perhaps even Beckie). I also see a fall from bars (Beckie has a very high-risk routine w/ 3 releases)..

    VT:
    1. Biles
    2. Hong Un Jong
    3. Paseka
    4. Steingruber

    UB:
    1. Fan Yilin
    2. Kocian
    3. Spiri
    4. Musty
    5. Chunsong

    BB:
    1. Biles (could easily swap w/ Hernandez
    2. Hernandez
    3. Lieke Weaver
    4. Chunsong
    5. Musty
    — Beckie Downie will likely fall.
    FX:
    1. Biles
    2. Raisman
    3. String river
    4. Chunsong
    5. Ellie Downie

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    • Hmmm interesting predictions. Vault is the easiest, definitely Paseka, Biles, Hong Un Jong on the podium (in whatever order) with the teeniest chance of Chuso sneaking on the podium. Bars will be tight between Yilin, Chunsong, Spiri, Musty, and Downie. Beam is going to be close, Ponor, Musty, Chunsong seem to be the strongest but on a good day Biles, Melnikova (or Seda by some miracle), Wevers, or Saraiva could sneak on the podium. Floor will be Biles, Ponor/Raisman and no one else will likely come close to them except maybe Chunsong if she gets hits all her connections.

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    • I’m guessing you mean Sanne Wevers for beam instead of Lieke, right? Otherwise, I’d agree with you on most of these. I’m holding out some hope for Saraiva on beam, though I love Wevers as well. And probably not “string river” for floor, but Steingruber. 🙂

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      • Tan Jiaxin may beat out Shang for the bar final, her D-score (6.8) is higher than Shang’s (6.7) but Shang has been practicing very well recently.

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    • Wait.. okay who’s String river? I’m guessing that’s an autocorrected steingruber?
      Also, I disagree wish Laurie easily swapping with Biles because she was SO overscored at trials and internationally would score much lower, still high, but more in the 15.2-15.35 range rather than 15.5-15.7 which is just ridiculous. I really want Shang to medal, and I notice you didn’t include your all around predictions, so I’ll share mine.
      1. Do I even need to write this? SIMONE BILES
      2. Whichever American Qualifies to AA finals
      3. Shang Chunsong/Melnikova/(If she can get it together…? Probably not but every time I doubt her she proves me wrong) Aliya Mustafina

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  8. What happened to Romania? I’ll tell you. They have a ridiculous system that insists on tossing their developmental girls out with the trash if they don’t ace their age-group meets as seven or eight-year-olds. Hey Romania – might want to put a bit more effort into molding these girls if you don’t want to keep recycling Ponor quad after quad.

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  9. Well, Marta has put us on notice and Gabby’s doing AA. I have approximately 0% doubt now. In this case, with this athlete, I just don’t believe that podium training will decide it. USAG + NBC + sponsors are one big happy party that shall not be interrupted. Gabby in AA = bigger sponsor bucks for NBC. Period. That is all. Those who think that Gabby “at her potential” would beat Laurie or Aly need to first start with D scores and rethink that argument. Then there’s execution and pulling off the skills and connections. If we’re talking mental game, focus and passion, I would bet 100% on Laurie over Gabby, and even Aly.

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    • If Aly has a hit day, then she outscores both – Laurie was overscored so much this summer. In reality, Aly is only down .5-.7 on bars compared to Laurie, which she easily makes up for on vault, beam, and mostly floor. Gabby makes up more ground on bars, but is about even with Laurie everywhere else. Aly has had some confidence issues earlier in the year, but I think her focus, work ethic and passion trumps all.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. The Team Usa lineup suspense is real. I’m guessing though that there is no way that Laurie will sit out bars in quals if she will perform them in the team final, which seems to be the plan, no? So it seems like it will be Simone, Laurie and most likely Gabby for AA.

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    • yeah I have funny feeling this might be the case to…. if Laurie keep doing well esp on bars she might very well get to do AA over Aly . if you take out Laurie bars in quail, you potentially lower quail by at least 0.5 pt. if the strategy is team first then you don’t want to do that…

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      • why does .5 matter in quals? The US is already many points ahead of the world in terms of what they are expected to score. Aly has done bars in quals in every international competition she’s been in since 2010 – and the team has never suffered for it. People act like 14.4 is the worst score ever and we should be embarrassed by it. But really that score would have gotten someone into the bars final at Euros this year.

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    • I’ve been saying this from day one but everyone thought I was crazy LOL Tim said at Classics that they didn’t want to use Aly on bars even in qualifications and then Aly said that she wasn’t making the team to do bars so the fall was okay. I really don’t think that Aly was even in the AA picture after that and her placement at Nationals and Trials wouldn’t have changed that. If Aly was making the team for AA, Skinner should’ve made the team. But if Aly wasn’t making the team for AA and wasn’t doing bars in quals, we would’ve needed another AAer and that person would’ve been Gabby. There’s no way Gabby was making that team as a bars specialist who wasn’t doing AA in quals lol

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      • I think we as fans will all be sad if Aly doesn’t do AA, but I think Aly already knows what her chances are and I respect her for that. Martha acts like it a big secret to the girls, but I don’t think so. Based on things past gymnasts have said, Martha is pretty honest with the girls and I doubt she would let Aly and Mihai go into to the games blind to what the intent is. Aly is the leader of this team. She’s alway been team first. She will most likely get a spot and medal in the floor EF. So if she gets AA also I’m sure she will be thrilled. If not, then I know she will understand because she knows her bars are the weakest. I personally think her AA scoring potential is higher than Gabby or Laurie – so it will come down to what Martha puts emphasis on….the team qualification score (which really Aly’s bars wouldn’t even effect if you are banking on Maddie, Simone and Gabby hitting) or sending the 2 highest scoring potential AA in the final. I hope she chooses the latter but only time will tell.

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        • I guess I don’t understand why everyone is so shocked and upset about it. Aly has been so inconsistent in the AA this year. She was great at Nationals and Trials and the redemption story is cool but she honestly has had a ton of chances to prove herself and is only just now showing better consistency. I don’t think Aly or anyone involved would be surprised and I don’t think fans should have ruled out her not competing AA as a possibility. I think all 3 girls are capable of winning silver but Aly’s scoring potential rarely translates exactly to her actual scoring in international competition. I think they’re almost evenly matched when you take all of that into account so it is more so the team that’s the big deal. I’ve been considering the other side and if you look at it as Aly wasn’t even supposed to make the AA final in London but she did and she made a major mistake and it cost her the bronze medal, redemption is cool and all but no one owes her anything. Gabby is trying to make history and even if she only gets a silver, her name will be next to Nadia in that accomplishment….and Laurie may only get one shot at the Olympics…I really think she deserves to have her chance to make the AA final. I’m honestly fine with whoever gets it…there’s just more than one way to look at it and I think it’s unfortunate that everybody is so team Aly that they seem to be completely ignoring why this opportunity is just as significant for the other two equally deserving athletes.

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      • But that would be heartbreaking! I really want to see Aly fight for that AA final spot, because if she can get there she will likely medal. What a sweet redemption that would be after missing out in London

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    • I really want Aly and Laurie to be the ones in the AA in qualifications because they were the ones who delivered in the domestic season, but if one of them has to sit out I’d honestly prefer it to be Aly. I would love for her to have her redemption from the tiebreaker, but if it ends up being Simone, Gabby, Laurie, at least it will be based on the best on the events.

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  11. I’ve been watching the 1996 Olympics (because reasons), and the commentators have mentioned at least two instances of a coach sitting out a gymnast *who qualified to the AA final* so another gymnast could compete (Russia in 1992, Romania in 1996). That to me sounds far, far crazier than the US team being chosen based on reasons other than nationals/trials scores.

    Really I think the format of the competition is to blame. (Okay, and NBC commentary.) The US just has too many talented all-arounders, so some of them have to sit out the AA (hell, Kocian could probably be competitive internationally) and some of them aren’t even on the team.

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  12. Blame the IOC for what will eventually become 2 member teams, in their attempt to ‘make things more competitive’ and allow some lil girl representing Antarctica to compete in the Olympic AA.

    At the end of the day, Laurie is great, but she’s also a rookie. I felt the exact same way when Maggie (who I love) didnt go up on bars last year at worlds.

    This is the only ‘sport’ where fans ignore reps. Let these rookies earn their stripes. Simone, Aly, n Gabby will likely go AA, because they have RESUMES! Laurie is young and has another entire quad in front of her, if she wants it.

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    • Bruno Grandi is the worst thing to happen to gymnastics in 2 generations. His desperate vote-currying has done nothing to make the sport “more competitive,” it’s made it less–since excellent gymnasts are left off the US team (and presumably any other national team in a country with a lot of depth).

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  13. I guess I don’t understand why everyone is so shocked and upset about all of this. Aly has been so inconsistent in the AA starting at Worlds last year. She was great at Nationals and Trials and the redemption story is cool but she honestly has had a ton of chances to prove herself and is only just now showing better consistency. I don’t think Aly or anyone involved would be surprised if she doesn’t do AA and I don’t think fans should have ruled out her not competing AA as a possibility. I think all 3 girls are capable of winning silver and I think they’re almost evenly matched when you take everything into account. I’ve been considering the other side and if you look at it as Aly wasn’t even supposed to make the AA final in London but she did and she made a major mistake and it cost her the bronze medal, redemption is cool and all but no one owes her anything. Gabby is trying to make history and even if she only gets a silver, her name will be second only to Nadia in that accomplishment (in modern history)….and Laurie may only get one shot at the Olympics…I really think she deserves to have her chance to make the AA final and I don’t think Aly’s quest for redemption should trump the fact that she’s had her chance and Laurie hasn’t. I’m honestly fine with whoever gets it…there’s just more than one way to look at it and I think it’s unfortunate that everybody is so team Aly that they seem to be completely ignoring why this opportunity is just as significant for the other two equally deserving athletes.

    As for Trials, Trials do count, but they’re not like Trials for any other sport. For example, a race is a race and it doesn’t matter what you did even two days ago in a preliminary or semifinal heat if you can’t bring it in the final. Gymnastics is as much about what you did 6 months ago as it is what you do today. Simone could have come in last place at Trials and still would’ve made the team because we need her. Period. One or two bad days of competition don’t erase everything else that she’s accomplished any more than two good days erase the fact that someone has always been mediocre. Historically, some gymnasts didn’t even compete at Trials at all because of injuries but still made the team. By some of your logic, Dominique Moceanu and Shannon Miller shouldn’t have made the 1996 team because they were injured and didn’t compete at Trials. They were given extra time to get ready but they deserved it and Gabby didn’t? Martha said that Trials is a test to see where everyone is and what needs to be worked on…it also creates an atmosphere similar to the Games to give the girls a chance to compete under that kind of pressure…but it’s not the end all be all decision-making competition and the ONLY people who have said that are the fans who, for whatever reason, got that idea in their heads and are up in arms about it…and they’re only making that argument now because people want Aly/Laurie to do the AA and wanted MyKayla on the team. I get it, but this isn’t new, so please stop blaming the Trials process or whatever as your reason for being unsupportive of Gabby. Just say you don’t like her or you just like Aly and Laurie better but pleeeeaaaassseeee stop with the conspiracy theories already. It’s done.

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    • So Gabby should get to do AA over Aly because Aly got more consistent as the Games got closer? When Gabby got less consistent? It’s not just Trials where Gabby did poorly, she was lackluster the entire domestic season. Why does their consistency at American Cup/Jesolo/Pac Rims matter more than their consistency when the Games were right around the corner?

      People aren’t arguing that Aly should get to do AA in qualification because they feel bad about what happened to her in London. People are arguing that Aly should get to do AA in qualification because she’s been one of the top three AAers as the Games have drawn closer. And the arguments that Gabby would make history if she medalled in the AA again and that Laurie’s younger so she hasn’t had the chance already like Aly are no more legitimate than arguing that Aly should get to try again for redemption.

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      • Dude….since 2015 worlds Gabby has missed 4 routines in competition. 4. She missed on beam in Worlds quals. She had a big mistake on bars on Day 2 of Nationals and then she fell twice on beam at Trials. Aly has had way more misses/major mistakes over that same period of time and Aly has NEVER won a major international title in her entire career. Like…ever. Never made the podium at Worlds even when she should have. The scenario is literally “do I give the gymnast who consistently does well but has struggled recently because she peaks late a chance or do I give the gymnast who has had major mistakes all year but JUST recently gotten better a chance?” I’m not saying that Gabby is MORE deserving but I definitely don’t think she’s LESS deserving solely based on day 2 of nationals and trials, especially because she has always peaked later than everyone else and that’s old news. Gabby’s performances may have been “lackluster” but she didn’t have any falls before Nationals (unlike some people) and she still has the highest international AA total this season behind Simone. If anything, that’s an argument in favor of her…if she can outscore Laurie and Aly with “lackluster” performances, I wonder how well she can do when she’s actually firing at all cylinders?

        And I wasn’t arguing that anybody’s back story was “more legitimate.” But everyone else is talking about Aly’s redemption storyline like Gabby and Laurie don’t have have EQUALLY legitimate storylines. Regardless of whatever, my point is that nobody should be surprised by any of this and not liking Gabby is one thing, but saying she’s undeserving is an epic reach. I don’t care who gets second as long as Simone wins, honestly, but people seriously need to get over the Gabby thing. It’s. Done.

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