Olympic gymnastics: Five story lines

  • Updated: July 23, 2012 - 10:36 PM

U.S. Olympic gymnast Jonathan Horton

Photo: Jim Gensheimer, MCT

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger


With a whopping 59 medals in international competition since 2001, the U.S. women are on a run not seen since the breakup of the Soviet Union. They won the world title in 2003, '07 and '11, and they have four of the past six all-around champions. At last year's worlds, the Americans claimed half of the six titles available, and there could be a similar gold rush in London. But the Americans have won only one Olympic team title, in 1996, and they have gone to each of the past two Summer Games as the world champ only to come up a step short on the podium. "Every year, we get so much stronger," reigning world champion Jordyn Wieber said. "We did so good at worlds, but I think this team is even stronger than that. I'm really excited that we have a lot of potential to win the gold medal in London."


The U.S. stars are Wieber and Gabby Douglas, whose dazzling rise in the past six months has made for a compelling rivalry. Wieber, much like 2008 American standout Shawn Johnson, is powerful and unflappable, with no real weaknesses. She took down then-world champion Aliya Mustafina of Russia in her very first competition as a senior, and has lost only two all-around competitions since 2008, both to American teammates. Douglas finished a close second to Wieber at the U.S. championships, and again the first night of Olympic trials. But big scores on uneven bars, floor and vault pushed her past Wieber for the trials title.


Russia appeared unbeatable in 2010, with Mustafina running roughshod over the world championships. She led Russia to the team title, its first at a major international competition since the Unified Team won at the 1992 Barcelona Games. But injuries have left the Russian team a hobbled mess. Mustafina blew out her knee at the 2011 European championships, and she has shown only flashes of her ruthless brilliance since returning to competition last fall. Viktoria Komova has been slowed by a nagging ankle injury and inconsistency. Anastasia Sidorova, a member of the European team, is out because of a back injury. Anna Dementyeva, who won the 2011 European title, has been struggling to adjust to a growth spurt.


China has been on top of men's gymnastics for much of this century, winning five consecutive world titles as well as the gold medals at the Sydney and Beijing Olympics. But China looked vulnerable in winning the world title last fall. The Chinese finished qualifying behind Japan and the U.S. men, the first time since the 2004 Athens Olympics they had finished anywhere but first in any phase of a major competition. The reduction in team size, from six to five, figures to hurt China most, putting more of an emphasis on all-arounders, something the Chinese lack.


The American men have been insisting for years they can make a run at gold and, for the first time since 1984, they might just have the goods to back up the big talk. It starts with talent. Jonathan Horton has two medals from the Beijing Olympics, and Danell Leyva gave the U.S. men their first world title since 2003 last fall with his gold on parallel bars. "Simply put, I think we have the talent, we've got the ability, we have the routines and the start values. The intangible part of it is we've got the spirit," Horton said. "Every single one of these guys knows how to rise to the occasion."


  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Washington 102 FINAL
New York 91
Oklahoma City 114 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Cleveland 91 FINAL
Miami 101
LA Lakers 93 FINAL
Chicago 113
Golden State 86 FINAL
LA Clippers 100
DePaul 69 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 72
Ohio 58 FINAL
Nebraska 71
Colorado 66 FINAL
Hawaii 69
George Washington 60 FINAL
Wichita State 54
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 FINAL
Rice 30
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama


question of the day

Poll: Do you like the Twins' offseason moves so far?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters