LONDON — The American women gymnasts giggle like the teenagers they all are as they show off their stash of Olympic pins.
A "fave," says team captain Aly Raisman, is the one from Kellogg's cereal. Almost no American can ignore Snap, Crackle and Pop, so don't blame the girls for their Kellogg's love.
It will be qualification day for team finals, all-around finals and individual event finals, and the U.S. is expected to be represented well in everything.
Team coordinator Martha Karolyi speaks only of the importance of winning team gold, and the defending world champions haven't managed that since 1996 in Atlanta.
Their strong performance at the worlds in Japan a year ago, where American Jordyn Wieber also won the all-around title, has clearly caught the attention of the other contenders.
Chinese, Russian and Romanian coaches have been seen sneaking peeks at the Americans during training sessions, especially when the high-flying U.S. team works the vault.
Even though 16-year-old McKayla Maroney has seemed to suffer as many bangs and bumps and bruises as a football player, she still is able to soar and twist and point her toes (even if one is broken) on her world championship-winning vaults.
Maroney — who fell so hard during a floor exercise warmup pass during U.S. nationals about six weeks ago that she broke her nose even though she landed on her back and who reinjured a toe she originally broke last May — will perform only her gasp-inducing vaults Sunday.
Four of five team members compete on each of the four apparatus. The top three scores count toward qualification.
Raisman will be up first on the vault, followed by Gabrielle Douglas, defending world all-around champion Wieber and Maroney.
On uneven bars, Raisman will lead off again, followed by Wieber, 15-year-old Kyla Ross and Douglas. Ross starts for the U.S. on balance beam, ahead of Douglas, Wieber and Raisman. On floor exercise, it's Ross, Douglas, Wieber and Raisman.
The U.S. women, who won team silver in Beijing to go with Americans Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson winning all-around gold and silver, compete in the third of five subdivisions Sunday beginning at 8:45 a.m. Chicago.
Wieber and Douglas are considered co-favorites for the all-around title. Countries are allowed only two competitors each in the 24-woman all-around finals and the eight-woman event finals, likely leaving Raisman out of the mix in the all-around.
Russia, China and surging Romania, in some order, are expected to push the Americans. And the Russians have a pair 17-year-old all-around contenders as well.
Aliya Mustafina won the 2010 world championship before a knee injury required surgery and kept her away from defending her title in 2011. Viktoria Komova finished second to Wieber in Tokyo and is the defending world champion on the uneven bars.