The U.S. gymnastics team at the olympics made history this year. They won a team gold, all-around gold and silver, and a total of two golds, three silvers, and one bronze medal in the individual events. However, this team is memorable for much more than their success. Each one of the gymnasts on the team is incredibly inspirational. This year, probably more than any year in the past, the team has made me incredibly proud to be a gymnast, and even though the olympics are now over, they will carry on their legacy for years to come. Let’s meet each member of the team and find out why they are so inspirational to gymnasts and fans.
Simone Biles is considered to be possibly the most successful gymnast in the history of the sport. Her gymnastics literally breaks boundaries. She does skills that probably were considered impossible several years ago, and does them amazingly well. Beyond that, she is incredibly humble and has such an amazing attitude. After getting a bronze medal on the balance beam when she was expected to get a gold, many fans were disappointed, but not Simone. She posted a picture on Instagram kissing her bronze medal, and said that anyone would be thrilled to get a bronze medal at the olympics, not to mention she was absolutely thrilled for teammate Laurie Hernandez who beat her out in the event. She is also the second black athlete in history to win the all-around in women’s gymnastics, defying disgusting stereotypes that exist in the sports world. Her hard work, determination, showmanship, talent, and genuine personality make her a memorable athlete for years to come.
Madison was picked for the U.S. team solely because of her talent on the uneven bars, and Martha Karolyi could not have made a better decision than choosing her to represent the U.S. team on that event. She is one of the best gymnasts on the bars I have ever seen, and just flies from bar to bar in a way that I could only dream of ever being able to do. She had a fairly small role in the olympics by only competing in one event, but she never failed to give it her all in every bar routine she performed. Even when she did not win gold in the uneven bars final, she was beyond thrilled to take home a silver. Even with a fairly small role on the women’s team in terms of competing, her personality and sportsmanship played just as important a role in the team as any other gymnast.
Gabby Douglas has one of the most inspirational gymnastics stories I have heard (seriously, go watch her movie “The Gabby Douglas Story”). I have known about her for a very long time because she originally grew up in my home state, and I was so thrilled when she made the olympic team in 2012, not to mention how much I teared up when she went to be part of the gold-winning team and received the gold medal in the all-around—making herself both the first black woman to ever win an all-around gold and the first American gymnast to win team and all-around golds in the same year. Unfortunately, Gabby got an unusual amount of hate this year. Fans have criticized her hair, the fact that she did not hold her hand to her heart during the national anthem at the team awards ceremony, and how she supposedly did not seem supportive toward her teammates. However, she held her head up extremely high and even responded to her haters. Let’s admit it, it must have been hard coming back to the olympics after being an all-around champion and now only competing in one event, but I think she was an extremely good sport about it and she did absolutely amazing in what she did do.
Laurie is probably one of the most entertaining gymnasts I have ever watched. As announcer Tim Dagget says, “She keeps the ‘artistic’ in artistic gymnastics,” and I could not agree more. Her smile is absolutely contagious, and it is simply impossible not to smile while watching her perform. Her gymnastics is a delight to watch. She is extremely confident on the beam—which is not easy to do—and I have never seen someone cover up wobbles as well as she does. Not to mention she is only 16 years old, at least three years younger than all her teammates, but just as mature nonetheless. She is also the first athlete born in the 21st century to win an olympic gold medal, and the first Hispanic athlete to make the U.S. women’s gymnastics team since 1984. She is also undeniably sweet. Her dedication and passion for gymnastics are amazing, and there has never been a gymnast who has made me love the sport of gymnastics as much as she has.