The Dominance of the U.S. Women’s Team

Gymnastics - Artistic - Olympics: Day 4

It’s no surprise that since the change of the code in 2006, the U.S. women’s team has been successful, but just how dominant have they been? Would it surprise you to know that they have more than double the number of medals than the next highest country?

So what do the numbers actually say? There were a total of 209 team and individual medals up for grabs between 2006 and 2017. In 2009 and 2015, there were four medal winners on bars which account for the extra two medals.

Rank Nation Medal Count
1 United States 76
2 China 37
3 Russia 36
4 Romania 17
5 Germany 7
Great Britain 7
7 North Korea 5
8 Italy 4
9 Japan 3
Switzerland 3
Australia 3
12 Netherlands 2
Canada 2
Brazil 2
France 2
16 Ukraine 1
Vietnam 1
Belgium 1

In contrast to the men, there are only 18 countries that have managed to make the women’s podium compared to the 29 from the men’s competition.

What is of particular interest is that since 2006, the U.S. women’s team has either improved or retained their place from qualification every year except 2006 when they placed first in qualifications and ended up winning the silver medal in the finals. The team is also the only team in the world to have stood on the podium every year since 2006, with the last five straight medals being gold.

It’s an accomplishment that established a dynasty in the way the Soviets did from the 1960s into the 1980s, with the Romanians taking over shortly after, but considering the biggest sexual abuse scandal in the history of sports was happening behind the scenes, it makes what these U.S. gymnasts did even more impressive. These women are strong in character, skill, and passion and what they’ve achieved amidst sub-par training facilities and an abuse-driven culture is to be applauded.

Year Gold Silver Bronze
2006 China United States Russia
2007 United States China Romania
2008 China United States Romania
2010 Russia United States China
2011 United States Russia China
2012 United States Russia Romania
2014 United States China Russia
2015 United States China Great Britain
2016 United States Russia China

There has been talk and concern about the United States being unable to put together a team that can top the podium again this year, but these gymnasts have been the most successful in the world by far under the kind of turmoil, pressure, and abuse that no human should have to endure. This team will not fail because of a lack of a national coordinator or a national training facility, but will rather persevere as they always have.

Failure doesn’t come from a different color medal or from no medal at all. Failure comes only from a lack of integrity and from a system that cared more about the color of a medal than the well being of actual human life, and frankly the young women who have served our country have integrity in spades. They have already won.

Article by Kensley Behel

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14 thoughts on “The Dominance of the U.S. Women’s Team

    • Their facilities hadn’t been updated since the 80s. For the most dominant U.S. Olympic sports program, that is embarrassing. The top athletes in the country shouldn’t have to sleep in camp cabins, eat powdered eggs in moldy cafeterias, and train in a 30-year-old building that has absolutely zero technological upgrades that almost every other sports team has. Most college campuses have better facilities than the U.S. national team training center did. Obviously many training facilities around the world are worse (in the Dominican Republic they have holes in their mats, in Slovenia the building is too small to accommodate a vault runway so they have to start running outside, in India they don’t have half the equipment they need) but just because other places have it worse doesn’t mean the U.S. was in a great situation. That’s like telling someone with Stage 2 cancer that they should STFU because other people have Stage 4. *eyeroll*

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      • I watched a vlog form the national team camp that was linked here on the site, I think, and the girls were sleeping in two rooms with at least 20 bunk beds in each. I don’t think every single bed was taken, but the rooms themselves looked straight out of scary boarding school stories set in the 60ies or something. I remember the facility which I went to for a church sponsored summer camp for low income families being shut down because having 6(!) children share a room for an extended time was considered sub-par. That a NATIONAL TEAM of such international dominance with so many successes under their belt has facilities like that is… Surprising?

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    • Yeah, LSU from what I’ve seen actually has one of the best training facilities in the country, and that’s for gymnasts whose careers are ending within 4 years and training level 10 routines. And that’s not it; Oklahoma, UCLA and Florida’s training facilities easily top that of the US national team, and this is just in college gymnastics alone. The fact that elite gymnasts— and elite gymnasts from the number one team in the world at that—can’t even get half of the care that a collegiate athlete has is pathetic.

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  1. Do you think that the US dominance streak may end soon? I don’t mean as in by 2020, 2024 or even 2028, but my concern is that within the next 10-15 years we’ll see a generation so impacted by the current sex scandal that parents will be disinclined to enroll their children in gymnastics. Shawn Johnson said that if she had a child she would not put them in gymnastics because of what just happened, and other parents with young children who were thinking about it have echoed a similar sentiment.

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  2. I have motion sickness from trying to understand the point or tone of this article. The first two-thirds is about how great the US women are, but the conclusion is like “medals aren’t everything!!” Strange direction.

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  3. I think it is less a case of US domination and more about the degradation of the other major programs. Both Russia and China struggled to put together full and competitive teams for Rio. One more injury for either team would have put them out of the medals. They will both struggle to put up competitive teams for worlds this year. Both could finish anywhere between second and sixth. I don’t see Tokyo2020 being any different. Sad really

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    • I agree on China who seems to have a ton of great specialists but barely any all arounders which will hurt them, especially in the Tokyo format, but disagree on Russia. They have improved so much on non-veteran depth. Even if Komova, Paseka and Mustafina don’t make it, they still have good options come 2020. Vladislava Urasova, Ksenia Klimenko, Elena Eremina, Angelina Melnikova, Anastasia Iliankova, Angelina Simakova are solid all arounders that can pull in decent numbers on any of the events if they make the Tokyo team. That’s 6 options for 2020, not counting Mustafina or Komova, which is way more than they expected at the same point in the quad for Rio.

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      • Agreed on all points but decent numbers will not challenge the US and you are talking about a very young and thus unpredictable team if those vets cannot compete, making it even less likely they can seriously challenge the US. Also this post is more concerned with recent history than going forward and my point was more concerned with the degeneration of the Chinese and Russian programs and their ability to challenge US dominance. Unless the US implodes or there is a radical change in the CoP, nobody will challenge them. There hasn’t been a really strong Russian team since the Soviet Union days

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  4. Pingback: Around the Gymternet: The things we had to go through. | The Gymternet

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