Gabby Douglas handed shot at Rio 2016

Did Gabby Douglas really deserve an Olympic spot after shaky trials ?

A shaky performance at the Olympic trials still lead Gabby Douglas to make the women’s U.S. Olympics gymnastics team.  It was between Gabby Douglas and Ashton Locklear when Martha Karolyi was adding the final name to the list of ladies going to Rio. This year, the U.S. uneven bars champion, Locklear, had Douglas beat by over half a point on average on the uneven bars, Team USA’s weakest event.

Although Locklear did have great potential to score very well on beam and bars, Douglas was seen as a safer option. As Karolyi explained, “Gabby can do the other events and Ashton can do only the two.” Team USA will benefit more from Gabby’s all around safety net than they would from putting all of their faith in Locklear’s two events going perfectly.

Gabby Douglas ended day one of the trials in 7th place due to a fall on the balance beam. It was probably the simplest skill in her routine, but she just came down. The fall was something fans would never expect from a two time Olympic gold medalist.

Saturday night was supposed to be her bounce back shot, to show everyone that her mistake was a fluke. Yet, she fell again on the balance beam, this time from one of the harder skills. The crowd of over 18,000 people was beyond shocked. Gabby Douglas is a fighter and has tons of experience in the spotlight. So how could she falter and jeopardize her place on the U.S. Olympic team?

In an interview after night one of trials, Gabby was asked, “In the last month you’ve said you were trying to recapture some of the joy you’ve lost (in gymnastics). Is that still a work in progress?” Gabby replied that she’s still trying to uproot the aggressive nature she’s become so accustomed to so she could be happier in training. In another interview after the first night of competition, Gabby shared that she “Just hasn’t felt the same passion.”

She’s made promises to Martha Karolyi and her teammates since then to really focus on her training and get ready for Rio. Hopefully she regains that former joy in her training as she heads to Rio next month. Douglas says she’s “dreaming big” and plans on defending her gold medal. Martha Karolyi has had a few years in the gymnastics world, putting together some of the finest teams in the world. She knows what she’s doing, despite what some upset fans think after the 2016 trials.

From a regular fan’s point of view, Locklear deserved to go in front of Douglas. But when you look at the line up, there’s holes to be filled which Locklear is simply not suited. Simone Biles also had a mishap on the beam on night one, but does that mean she shouldn’t compete in Rio? Of course not. These girls have worked their entire lives to get where they’re at. Karolyi has made sure not to base her Olympic team on one performance. She’s watched these girls grow and get better over countless practice hours. She knows their capability once that Olympic flame is lit.

 

Fans will have to see the finished product of Team USA before judging too harshly.

Lauren von Bernuth