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How to Build The Paris Olympic Team

There are over 70 combined World and Olympic medals held by the gymnast competing in the U.S. Olympic Trials next weekend with the majority being gold. The race for a spot on the 2024 Paris Olympic team will take place amongst the most decorated Olympic Trials field in U.S. gymnastics history. The athlete selection committee will choose 5 gymnasts from the Olympic Trials competition to represent the United States, along with four alternates (two traveling and two non-traveling).

For those new to gymnastics, the “three up, three count” format (meaning, three athletes will compete and all three scores will count– most other competitions a low score will be dropped) is important to keep in mind. Of the five team members, three will be selected to compete per each apparatus during the team competition, so the highest scoring team won’t necessarily be the top five all-around gymnasts, but could consist of a few event specialists.

According to the athlete selection procedures, only the all-around winner can secure an automatic spot on the Olympic team: this is the highest-scoring all-around athlete from the combined two days of competition. The other four members of the team will be selected using the following considerations:

  • Results from 2024 Winter Cup, Classics, Championships, and Olympic Trials
  • September 2023 – June 2024 International Assignments
  • Difficulty scores (D-scores) and execution scores (E-scores) at any of the above-mentioned competitions
  • Consistency: Percentage of routines without a very large deduction at any official international assignment or national event during the 2023-2024 competitive season
  • Composite strength of the Olympic Team members with medal potential in team, all-around, and individual event finals      
  • Strength, endurance, and technical execution standard and artistic components up to the level of World and Olympic presentation
  • Readiness to compete defined by the healthiness and physical preparedness of each gymnast
  • Physical capability to fulfill the training plan put forth by High Performance Leadership Team

Let’s delve into a few different combinations of potential Olympic teams. Before we get started, let’s talk about the top contenders for this team and how they make their case:

Leading Contenders

Simone Biles

After sweeping U.S. Nationals, Simone Biles is the only gymnast in this field who could have a disastrous Olympic Trials performance and still make the team. After winning the all-around title at last year’s World Championships, Simone Biles became the most decorated gymnast in history by total World and Olympic medal count. Like you do.

Shilese Jones

After almost retiring from elite gymnastics in 2021, Shilese Jones came back to the elite world with determination. She became a back-to-back World Champion in 2022 and 2023 and is a frontrunner for the second Olympic spot. Jones finished second at U.S. Classics last month and nabbed an Olympic medal-contending 15.200 on bars. Unfortunately, a nagging shoulder injury caused Jones to withdraw from the U.S. Championships for precautionary measures, but she was able to petition to U.S. Trials where she still needs to show readiness across both days.

Skye Blakely

One of the biggest storylines heading into U.S. Championships was Skye Blakely’s Cheng and seeing if it was just a tease on Instagram or if it was a legit competition ready vault. She tested the waters with it on day one and it paid off with a 15.0, the second-highest vault score to Simone Biles. Blakely is not only one of the top all-around gymnasts in the U.S., but now one of the strongest vaulters with potential to qualify for the Olympic vault final. Blakely’s rise throws gymnasts trying to differentiate themselves from the field on vault, like Jade Carey and Joscelyn Roberson, into a precarious situation.

Sunisa Lee

You may know Lee from casually being the reigning Olympic all-around champion, but her path back to the Olympics certainly has not been easy. Lee’s battle with kidney issues has held her back from the all-around competition. She only made her elite all-around return at U.S. Nationals this year, her first since Tokyo. Lee placed fourth in the all-around, but more importantly was able to put up a 14.9 on beam, the highest beam score of the entire meet. While Lee can contribute on any event if needed, her argument to be on the Olympic team is much stronger as a two-event specialist with her medal potential bars routine. 

Filling In the Roster


Now let’s look into some possible Olympic team permutations. Besides Biles, each one of these aforementioned gymnasts need to repeat or improve their performance from Nationals to put them in a comfortable position for the Olympic team. When considering the strong case for the above four athletes the Olympic Trials is going to be most intriguing when considering the race for the fifth spot. Using each gymnasts’ best scores up to Nationals, the top five highest scoring teams are within 0.117 of each other, so Olympic Trials are going to be a final determining factor to lock-in that last spot.

Team 1: Simone Biles, Shilese Jones, Skye Blakely, Sunisa Lee, Kaliya Lincoln177.183

Vault Bars Beam Floor
Biles Biles Blakely Jones
Blakely Lee Lee Lincoln
Jones Jones Biles Biles

 

Kaliya Lincoln rounding out the highest-scoring team of 5 may come as a surprise, but Lincoln’s floor score fills an important gap over Sunisa Lee and Skye Blakely who have averaged just a 13.2 and 13.275 respectively in 2024. Lincoln broke into the 14s at U.S. Classic where she debuted a new 6.2 difficulty floor routine with a Moors opening pass. While this is the highest scoring team, Lincoln has an uphill battle because she can’t contribute higher scores on other events like beam and floor. Lincoln was in a similar situation last year during Worlds selection where she also was a member of the highest-scoring team but was not even selected as an alternate. If we learned anything from years past, the selection committee puts greater emphasis on gymnasts that can reliably contribute in the all-around. Lincoln may face a similar fate this year unless she can finish towards the top of the all-around standings at Olympic Trials.

Team 2: Simone Biles, Shilese Jones, Skye Blakely, Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles177.100

Vault Bars Beam Floor
Biles Biles Blakely Jones
Blakely Chiles/Lee Lee Chiles
Chiles Jones Biles Biles

 

Just 0.083 behind the highest-scoring team, Jordan Chiles rounds off the fifth member of this team with ample coverage on vault, bars, and floor. Chiles brings a sturdy Yurchenko double-full to complement Biles and Blakely in the team final. Chiles’ reconstructed 6.0 bar routine is also worthy for a team final lineup, but her biggest draw is floor where she went 14.100 on the second day of Nationals.

Team 3: Simone Biles, Shilese Jones, Skye Blakely, Sunisa Lee, Joscelyn Roberson177.066

Vault Bars Beam Floor
Biles Biles Blakely Jones
Blakely Lee Lee Roberson
Roberson Jones Biles Biles

 

After making it onto her first Worlds team last year, Roberson established herself as a strong vault and floor specialist, bringing a solid Cheng and an ambitious floor routine that starts off with a Moors. Since her injury at Worlds, she’s struggled to reach the same level as last year. Her best bet of making this team is if she can get some mid-14 vault and floor scores and can surpass Jade Carey on vault and Kaliya Lincoln on floor.

Team 4: Simone Biles, Shilese Jones, Skye Blakely, Sunisa Lee, Kayla DiCello177.050

Vault Bars Beam Floor
Biles Biles Blakely Jones
Blakely DiCello/Lee Lee DiCello
DiCello Jones Biles Biles

 

After deciding to defer her time at Florida for the year, Kayla DiCello, the 2020 Olympic alternate, is more determined than ever to make this team. Her performance at Nationals where she finished third all-around with a 56.850 after the first day of competition helps her case to be on this team a lot, especially when considering how important all-around results have been to the selection committee. DiCello’s solid Yurchenko-double full, which she nearly stuck on both days of Nationals, is a promising vault for a team final scenario. DiCello’s bars are also worthy of a team final lineup; her upgraded set that includes a Maloney to Hindorff combination has been inconsistent this year, so she needs to prove at Trials that she can hit this routine. 

Team 5: Simone Biles, Shilese Jones, Skye Blakely, Sunisa Lee, Jade Carey177.000

Vault Bars Beam Floor
Biles Biles Blakely Jones
Blakely Lee Lee Carey
Carey Jones Biles Biles

 

A lackluster 2023 season dimmed Jade Carey’s prospects to return to the Olympics. The reigning Olympic floor champion finished 2023 Nationals down in 15th after a mistake-ridden performance across both days. But things have been looking up for Carey this season. Her 55.0 was enough to win the American Classic and she finished in seventh at Nationals with a 55.050 after the first day with the third-highest vault score. The biggest worry for Jade is her inability to crack into the 14s on floor, but she has mentioned she still has more upgrades to add-in, so that will be important to showcase  at Trials.

The Most Important Routines to Watch at Olympic Trials

Skye Blakely’s beam:

Inconsistency has plagued Skye in the past, but she’s been looking solid on beam throughout 2024. She needs to keep that momentum going to quell any beam fear caused by her international inconsistency.

Sunisa Lee’s bars:

Sunisa has mentioned she has more upgrades to bring for trials. What upgrades are they? Will she hit them? 

Kaliya Lincoln’s floor:

Floor is the most obvious hole in the team and it’s a race between Lincoln, Chiles, Roberson, DiCello, and Carey for this score to make sure Lee or Blakely don’t have to do floor in the team final.

Kayla DiCello and Jordan Chiles’ bars: 

If Lee falters on bars during Trials, Chiles or DiCello could swoop in and make their arguments to be on the team for a bars score.

Jade Carey’s floor:

Carey’s big selling point is being the reigning Olympic Champion on floor, but she hasn’t been scoring like one recently. Jade has to pull some more upgrades out of her bag to boost her scoring into the 14s to make an argument.

Leanne Wong AA:

Leanne didn’t have the best performance at Nationals. Her scoring is even across the events and her routines are great for backup, but with Hezley Rivera’s rise (finishing 6th at Nationals, two places above Leanne), the 2020 Olympic alternate needs to make sure she stays ahead in the all-around game to secure even an alternate position.

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KK
KK
28 days ago

Or, they may just pick the Top 5 AA. But I seriously hope I’m wrong.

Pattyastics
Pattyastics
27 days ago

Thank you Gymcastic! I’ve been craving your analysis so much. This is magic. Interesting how the top scores shake out. Wouldn’t have expected this ranking

Last edited 27 days ago by Pattyastics
Gym-sessed
Gym-sessed
25 days ago

I’m all in with Jordan Chiles. With only a .083 difference from Kaliyah Lincoln (as brilliant as she is), she can do all 4 events if needed, and has that international experience.

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