SAN JOSE — After two days of intense competition, the United States Olympic women’s gymnastics team roster was finalized on Sunday night at SAP Center.
Heading to Rio next month are Simone Biles, reigning Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas, her 2012 teammate Aly Raisman, and first-time Olympians Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian.
Three additional athletes were also named to the Olympic team following Sunday’s meet: MyKayla Skinner, Ragan Smith and Ashton Locklear will serve as alternates.
A spot on the roster was reserved for the athlete with the highest cumulative points total at the end of the two days of competition. That spot went to national champion Biles, who totalled 123.250 points.
Laurie Hernandez, a fan favorite that had the crowd chanting her name during her routines also impressed the judges with the second-highest points total of the event with 121.150 points. Hernandez was the top competitor on balance beam during Sunday’s meet, topping even world champion Biles with a score of 15.700 points on what proved to be the most challenging apparatus of the meet.
While waiting for the team to be announced, Hernandez and her fellow competitors looked less like future international stars and more like the average American her age.
“We were all on our phones, trying to distract ourselves,” Hernandez said.
But once named to the team, Hernandez’s mood quickly changed from nervous to elated.
“This is insane,” she said. “Four years ago I never though I would’ve been in this moment. Everything that I’ve ever gone through in the gym is worth it right now.”
For the ladies that didn’t make the team this cycle, two-time Olympian and 1996 gold medalist Shannon Miller thinks the experience of just competing in the Olympic trials alongside returning Olympians Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas will be a benefit to their careers.
“I think they’re a great inspiration now to these younger athletes that, maybe they’ll make the team, or maybe they’re going to be an alternate,” Miller said. “But now they’ll see that they can stay around for another four years.”
This team will be the final national team assembled by the coaching tandem of Martha and Bela Karolyi, who have been training for more than 30 years. But 1996 gold medalist Dominique Moceanu isn’t worried that the United State’s golden legacy will change anytime soon.
“I don’t think we need them to win,” Moceanu said. “I think the teams are still going to continue to dominate, they’re still going to continue to win, and I think it’s gonna be great.”
The newly assembled team will head to the national development camp in Houston to hone their skills before leaving for the Rio games next month.