ST. LOUIS — High-profile competition is taking center stage in the Countdown to Rio with the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials this weekend. The Men's Gymnastics and the P&G Gymnastics Championships for women and junior men are playing out at Saint Louis University’s Chaifetz Arena.
A lot is on the line, including five spots on the U.S. Olympic men’s gymnastics team. In addition, there are berths available for to the U.S. Olympic Women's Team Trials next month in San Jose, Calif.
Tickets are still available for the gymnastics showcase, which has a fan fest open to the public. Competition starts Thursday and continues through Sunday.
In St. Louis, three-time U.S. and World all-around champion Simone Biles of Spring, Texas/World Champions Centre, looks to win her fourth-consecutive U.S. all-around title. Meanwhile, four-time U.S. all-around champion. and 2012 Olympian Sam Mikulak of Newport Coast, Calif./Team Hilton (U.S. Olympic Training Center), leads the field of 18 men vying for the five-man U.S. Olympic Team and replacement athlete spots.
The U.S. Olympic Men’s Gymnastics Team, pending United States Olympic Committee approval, will be named at the conclusion of Saturday’s competition.
Three of Mikulak’s 2012 Olympic teammates are in the Olympic Trials field: Jake Dalton of Sparks, Nev./Team Hilton (University of Oklahoma); Danell Leyva of Miami/Team Hilton (Universal Gymnastics); and John Orozco of the Bronx, N.Y./Team Hilton (U.S. Olympic Training Center).
All seven members of the 2015 World Championships Team are participating this week. They are: Chris Brooks of Houston/Team Hilton (U.S. Olympic Training Center); Marvin Kimble of Milwaukee, Wis./Team Hilton (U.S. Olympic Training Center); Leyva; Alexander Naddour of Queen Creek, Ariz./Team Hilton (USA Youth Fitness Center); Paul Ruggeri of Manlius, N.Y./Team Hilton (U.S. Olympic Training Center); Donnell Whittenburg of Baltimore, Md./Team Hilton (U.S. Olympic Training Center); and Brandon Wynn of Voorhees, N.J./Team Hilton (U.S. Olympic Training Center).
For the women, Biles has the opportunity to become the first woman to win four consecutive U.S. titles since Joan Moore Gnat in 1971-74. 2012 Olympic gold medalists Gabby Douglas of Virginia Beach, Va./Buckeye Gymnastics, and Aly Raisman of Needham, Mass./Brestyan’s American Gymnastics, are also in the field.
All seven members of the 2015 World Championships team that won the USA’s third straight team gold medal (2011, ’14-’15) are expected to participate. They include: Biles; Douglas; Brenna Dowell of Odessa, Mo./GAGE; Madison Kocian of Dallas/WOGA; Maggie Nichols of Little Canada, Minn./Twin City Twisters; Raisman; and MyKayla Skinner of Gilbert, Ariz./Desert Lights.
In addition, MG Elite’s Lauren Hernandez and Jazmyn Foberg, both of Morganville, N.J., who finished first and second, respectively, at the 2015 P&G Championships junior competition, are expected to participate.
Men's and P&G competition starts Thursday. The men then go again at 7 p.m. Saturday. The P&G action resumes at 1 p.m. Friday.