The U.S. women’s gymnastics team in Rio is so decorated that it’s considered a slam dunk that it will repeat as Olympic champion for the first time.
The question is, can the Americans sweep all six gold medals?
The team includes world championships medalists on every apparatus, plus a first-year senior gymnast who is getting better with every competition.
Combine that with the recent decline of China (since its 2008 Olympic team title), Russia (since its 2010 World team title) and Romania (not even sending a full team to Rio).
A look at the credentials of all five gymnasts on the U.S. Olympic team:
Three-time world all-around champion
Four-time U.S. all-around champion
14-time world championships medalist
The 19-year-old Texan is already the most decorated U.S. gymnast in world championships history, breaking Alicia Sacramone‘s record of 10 medals last year. Biles has not lost an all-around competition in more than three years and could win five medals in Rio to match a U.S. women’s gymnastics record. She has earned medals in the team event, all-around, balance beam, floor exercise and vault in every one of her world championships appearances.
2012 Olympic all-around champion
2015 World Championships all-around silver medalist
Douglas took 31 months off from competition after London 2012, returning in March 2015 and improving as the year went on to finish runner-up to Biles at worlds. This year has not been as kind. Douglas was fourth at the P&G Championships and then, after a coaching adjustment, seventh at the Olympic Trials. It doesn’t look like she’ll have the chance to defend her all-around title in Rio but could be an asset in the team final on uneven bars.
2015 U.S. junior all-around champion
2016 U.S. Olympic Trials runner-up
Hernandez is the youngest member of the team and the first U.S. Olympic gymnast born in the 2000s. She is the breakout of 2016, competing on the senior level for the first time and rising to finish second to Biles at the Olympic Trials. She may be tapped to do the all-around in Rio but performed best on balance beam and floor exercise at Trials.
2015 World Championships co-uneven bars gold medalist
Kocian is on this team for one primary reason — uneven bars. It will likely be her only appearance in the team final. Kocian shared the world title on bars in 2015 with three other gymnasts. If the U.S. is to earn medals in every event in Rio (possibly golds in all), Kocian will be leaned on in that apparatus final for sure.
Three-time 2012 Olympic medalist
Four-time world championships medalist
The Olympic floor exercise champion is right with Hernandez for a potential second spot in the Rio all-around final behind Biles. A nation can qualify a maximum of two gymnasts into individual Olympic finals. It would be a sweet comeback for Raisman, who was motivated to return in part because she missed a 2012 Olympic all-around medal due to being on the wrong end of a tiebreaker. Expect her to be used on beam, floor and vault in the team final.Follow @nzaccardi