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Strengths and Weaknesses of the World Championship Training Squad – Oldies and Newbies

The entire 2014 gold medal winning United States World Championship team will attend the 2015 World Championship training camps as will the gymnasts below, who are a combination of oldies making returns to the sport and newbies trying to navigate the path to a World Championships for the first time.

The best cell phone photography of all time.

The best cell phone photography of all time.

Gabby Douglas

Strengths: The 2012 Olympic All Around Champion (it’s still pretty crazy to read/type/see that) has had a very successful return to competition thus far and competes with the same lightness she had in 2012. Gabby floats on bars similar to the way she did in 2012 and her leaps and jumps appear to have greatly improved. Her performance at the 2015 P&G Championships alludes to her 2012 American Cup performance and unofficial win in that she lacks nerves and stress and appears to be having a blast on the floor.

Weaknesses: Gabby endeavors to compete at the 2016 Olympic team and her and her coaches are pacing herself accordingly so her difficulty is currently rather low.

Worlds Potential: Gabby served as a bars specialist in 2011 and at P&G Championships she placed fourth behind two bars specialists and Bailie Key. If the Selection Committee decides on an purely all arounder team, Gabby very well could be the best bar worker on that team. Gabby used P&G’s to shake out more competition rust from her time off and a few more months in the gym as well as two selection camps could bring her up to where she needs to be to compete in Glasgow.

Maggie Nichols

Strengths: Maggie has crept up the rankings of USA gymnastics rather than bursting onto the scene a la her BFF Simone Biles and has laudable work ethic and firm determination. Maggie debuted an Amanar vault this year as well as numerous other upgrades she had been working on following a knee injury last summer.

Weaknesses: Maggie’s maintains similar execution and difficulty across events but does not have one event that would solidify her place on the World Championships team.

Worlds Potential: Maggie could compete on any event in a team final but would most likely not anchor any events. She has a low probability of making any event finals seeing as she did not place higher than fourth on any one apparatus at P&G Championships.

Aly Raisman

Strengths: Aly’s return to elite gymnastics has been very impressive and wildly successful. She already has brought back her Amanar vault and competed 6.7 difficulty routine on floor. Aly also has extreme consistency on beam and her fall at P&G Championships was her first fall in over 10 years as well as first fall ever in elite.

Weaknesses: Bars.

Worlds Potential: The reigning Olympic floor champion has increased her difficulty on floor during her return to competition and could anchor this event at a World Championships in the same fashion as she did in 2011 and 2012. She could also earn another World floor medal or her first World Championships floor title. Aly’s flukey fall on beam at P&G Championships does not put her status as beamer in jeopardy and she could be trusted in any position in the beam lineup and also medal here. Aly could also contribute on vault in a team setting. The only place Aly could not contribute in a team setting or medal is bars, although if she had to compete on bars in an absolute pinch, Team USA could easily make up the deficit on the remaining three events.

Bailie Key

Strengths: The 2013 Junior national all around champion’s strengths lie in her precision, form, and excellent execution. Bailie channels Kyla in that she does not stand out while watching numerous routines consecutively in a meet but her routines viewed alone greatly impress.

Weaknesses: Bailie could contribute on any event in a team competition but does not have one event that will solidify her spot on the team. This seems to be the theme of this year: Too many all arounders! What a world we live in where that occurs.

Worlds Potential: Bailie could do very well on a team comprised of only other all arounders but her strengths do not compliment another gymnast’s weakness so if the Selection Committee decides to utilize specialists Bailie could not contribute there.

Nia Dennis

Strengths: Nia performs strong, clean, and difficult gymnastics but not always at the same time. She also competes aggressively on bars, has impressive tumbling on floor, and has the potential for an Amanar on vault.

Weaknesses: Nia exudes great potential but never seems to have been able to put it all together during competition. She recently moved to Legacy Elite where the coaches downgraded her routines in an effort to improve her consistency.

Worlds Potential: The combination of past mental struggles and inconsistency paired with current low difficulty will make it tough for Nia to represent Team USA in Scotland. If the successful championships increased her confidence enough to reintroduce upgrades to her routines in time for selection camp, Nia could possibly contribute on any event.

Brenna Dowell

Strengths: Brenna has unique combinations on bars as well as a high start value. She has competed an Amanar vault in the past but has not competed in since March 2014. Brenna also favors front tumbling passes on floor, which is also unique as US gymnasts seldom perform front tumbling. Brenna also had a very successful NCAA season which assists her confidence through competing every weekend for four months.

Weaknesses: Brenna has an amazing bar set when she puts it all together and unfortunately that rarely happens. Her skills are so impressive but she lacks the consistency required for an event requiring multiple days of intense competition, such as a World Championships.

Worlds Potential: As great as Brenna can be, she is a long shot for the World Championships team. She was relegated to alternate in 2013 and non-traveling alternate in 2014 and she has not shown improvements in consistency, which is what the Selection Committee would want to see in order to trust her in a team final. Brenna also does not have any event finals worthy routines other than in which she could contend for a medal, which also would have increased her chances of making the 2015 team.

Rachel Gowey

Strengths: Rachel competes a 6.6 difficulty bar routine. She also competes confidently and with great fluidity on beam.

Weaknesses:  Rachel does well on bars and beam but not enough to potentially fill a void created by gymnasts who are weaker on bars.

Worlds Potential: Rachel only competed on bars and beam at P&G Championships and placed 6th on each. If she could not place in top three or even in the top five domestically, she has little chance of earning a spot in event finals.

Amelia Hundley

Strengths: Amelia has been elite for what seems like a million years so she can withstand the mental and physical tribulations of elite gymnastics. She also always provides the audience with a genuine performance on floor.

Weaknesses: Amelia’s low scoring potential would hurt her chances of competing at World Championships.

Worlds Potential: In addition to her low difficulty, Amelia injured her meniscus at P&G Championships and a surgical repair will inhibit her ability to try for the team.

aly raismanamelia hundleybailie keybrenna dowellgabby douglasGlasgow 2015gymnasticsMaggie Nicholsnia dennisrachel goweyworld championships

Kerry Joyce • 21/08/2015


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