A decades-long trend in women’s artistic gymnastics will hit a milestone at the Tokyo Olympics.
For the first time since 1968, there will be more non-teens than teens competing.
For the 97* women currently on the entry list, the median age is 21 years on the day of the Opening Ceremony (July 23). That’s a huge jump from 2016, when the median was 19 years, seven months, according to Bill Mallon of Olympedia.org and the OlyMADMen.
Similarly, the mean is at its highest since 1964. The average age for Tokyo is 21 years, 11 months. The average age in 2016 was 20 years, 9 months.
At the 1968 Mexico City Games, the median age was 20 years, 1 month. It dropped to 18 years, 2 months, in 1972. Then it was in the 16s or 17s from 1976 through 2000. It was in the 18s in 2004 and 2008, then the 19s in 2012 and 2016.
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For Tokyo, the U.S. women’s artistic gymnastics team includes more than two non-teens for the first time since 1952 — Simone Biles, Jade Carey, Jordan Chiles and MyKayla Skinner are all in their 20s. Every member of the team is 18 or older for the first time since 1952, according to Olympedia.
The Magnificent Seven in 1996 had zero women in their 20s, plus a 14-year-old Dominqiue Moceanu who wouldn’t be eligible for the Olympics under new age rules instituted after the Atlanta Games. Gymnasts must now turn 16 in an Olympic year to be eligible.
Internationally, Germany and the Netherlands have no teens on their teams. The last time any nation with a full team roster had no teens was at the 1964 Tokyo Games.
Uzbek Oksana Chusovitina, 46, will break her record for most Olympic gymnastics appearances (Tokyo will be her eighth) and the record for oldest Olympic female gymnast that’s stood since 1928, according to Olympedia.
Only three of the other 96 women entered for the Tokyo Games were alive when Chusovitina competed for the Soviet Union at the 1991 World Championships.
*A total of 97 female artistic gymnasts are currently in the Tokyo entry system. A 98th from Argentina — either Martina Dominici, 19, or Abigail Magistrati, 17 — could be entered. Dominici qualified a spot but is listed as suspended by the International Gymnastics Federation after it was reported last month that she failed a drug test. Magistrati would be in line to replace her.
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