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GREENWOOD, Okla. — For the first time in American history, Black excellence will be well represented in the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team Trials. Once stigmatized as not having the right body type for the sport, six Black athletes, among 18 talented women competitors, will vie for one of four spots to represent Team USA in Tokyo, Japan.
Who’s Competing in the US Olympic Trials?
2016 Olympic Champion Simone Biles, 24, the world’s most decorated gymnast, is a lock for Tokyo, winning her 7th National title early this month at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth, Texas.
Biles’ club teammate, Jordan Chiles, 20, is sure to be selected if she delivers another solid performance at the Trials. Chiles will come into the Team Trails ranking 3rd in the nation at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships and 1st at Winter Cup. Hence, she’s been consistent in the last two major competitions.
Amari Drayton, 17, and Zoe Miller, 16, Biles’ and Chiles’ teammates at World Champions Centre in Spring, Texas, have also qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials.
Shilese Jones, 18, who helped the US win team gold at the 2018 Pan American Games, sealed her spot in the team trials with a perfect vault at Championships.
Skye Blakely, 16, initially had her eyes set on the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. Had the Olympic trials happened in 2020, Blakely wouldn’t have been in the mix because of age requirements. Gymnasts must be 16 to qualify and compete at the senior elite level. However, due to the global pandemic delaying the 2020 Summer Games by a year, Skye competed at the National Championship as a senior elite gymnast and qualified for Trials. She and the others are now heading to the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team trials in St. Louis, Missouri, held June 24-27, 2021.
How the US Olympic Gymnastics Team is Selected
The top two competitors at Trials earn guaranteed spots on team U.S.A. Biles is most likely to earn the top spot; she hasn’t lost an all-around competition since 2013, leaving three possible spots for the other 18 competitors. A committee will select the 3rd and 4th spots.
An additional two spots are open for specialists, individuals who would only compete on one of the four apparatuses: bars, beam, floor, or vault. Jade Carey, another amazingly talented US gymnast, has clinched her spot on vault; however, should she choose to surrender her place for a team position, two gymnasts who don’t make the top four may be selected as specialists.