Entertainment: US Gymnastics at the London 2012 Olympics

The 2008 U.S. Olympics Gymnastics Team had a very strong showing in Beijing 2008 with the Women’s team getting the silver medal and the Men’s team (largely considered underdogs at the time) sneaking in for the bronze.

For 2012, the only veterans from the 2008 team that have returned for the 2012 Olympic trials include:
Jonathan Horton
Nastia Liukin
Alicia Sacramone
Bridget Sloan

Of the four… going into the Olympic trials in San Jose, Jonathan Horton appears to be the most likely to return with Alicia Sacramone as a possibility.

But what happened to the rest of the 2008 team?

Alexander Artemev
One of two alternates that was called in to fill in for the Hamm brothers (Morgan and Paul) he was known for inconsistency, but incredible routines when he was on top of his game. But in 2009 he was part of an automobile accident that left him with a career threatening injury, since then he has been training and building up his body, confidence and strength in the hope of going to the Olympics if not in 2012 then in 2016.

Raj Bhavsar
Known for his prowess on the rings, vault, and parallel bars he retired from competition and was cast in the Cirque du Soliel show: Iris.

Joe Hagerty
At last mention, he retired from competition, but not much more is known.

Justin Spring
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign profile
He retired from competition in 2009 when he was offered the coaching position for the Men’s Gymnastics team at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and doing quite well leading the team to strong showings in competition.

Kai Wen (Kevin) Tan

Shawn Johnson
She attempted a comeback but due to a lingering injury she chose to retire from competition in 2012.

Chellsie Memmel
She attempted a comeback but was unable to achieve the point values needed to earn an invitation to the Olympics Trials.

Samantha Peszek
It was announced in 2009 that she intended to compete in the NCAA circuit.

The U.S. Olympic trials for gymnastics will be held in late June/early July and with such a strong crop of gymnasts in attendance it would be interesting to see who would get a chance to head to London for the Olympics in late July/early August.

So who does the media / sports analysts / etc believe is most likely headed to London 2012? Well let’s look at the rules first, in the Beijing 2008 Olympics each team were allowed six members and up to three alternates. If you don’t recall, the U.S. Men’s Olympic Gymnastics team ended up using two of the three alternates due to the withdrawal of the brothers Paul and Morgan Hamm. Since then Paul Hamm has officially retired from competition in 2012 after an attempted run but Morgan is more of an unknown. However, for the London 2012 Olympics, the countries are only allowed a five member team and up to three alternates. The reasoning: they wanted to give more spots to individuals whose countries may not qualify for the team events. What ends up happening is that with five member teams the gymnasts who are strong specialists in various apparatus may not get a chance to compete in favor of gymnasts who are strong all-arounders.

According to the Bleacher Report they are looking at Kyla Ross as a sure entry onto the U.S. Olympic Women’s Gymnastics team. Not only that but they have named Rebecca Bross, Gabby Douglas, Alexandra Raisman, and Jordyn Wieber as their pick for the Top 10 All-arounders at the moment. If you look at those names right there, you already have your five member women’s team. With the three alternates being more of a toss up since U.S. Women’s Gymnastics tends to have a very deep talent pool.

Then men aren’t that far behind in the talent pool however, with a very competitive group these past couple of years, it really is a toss up who would be picked for the team. Looking at the selection process for the men and knowing that the two male athletes with a cumulative top score between the 2012 VISA Championship and the Olympic Trials one could easily speculate. Leading the pack is John Orozco who came from behind Danell Leyva to beat him out for the top spot and Danell having to settle with second. Just two and three points behind them respectively are Sam Mikulak and Jonathan Horton. And tied for the fifth spot with equal cumulative two-day scores were Chris Brooks who had the stronger preliminary score while Jacob Dalton had the stronger finals score.

It will be a real treat to watch some of the above competitors in action as they vie for a spot on the U.S. Gymnastics Olympic team… and with the top female and two top males with a sure spot on the team it would be another twenty-four hours after the conclusion of the trials to find out who will make the remainder of the teams and the alternates. And as we all know from the last Olympics, it could come down to the alternates that could win a medal for the team.