Suspense over Rio team picks is intense, and drawn out. Especially for Douglas.


Emotionally spent, Gabby Douglas tried to explain her hesitation at answering the first question after she made her second U.S. Olympic gymnastics team in dramatic style.

“I’m still trying to process this,” she said, letting out a sigh, sitting on her chair in the interview area, adding later, “It was close, definitely, and it’s always going to be in the back of my mind.”

It’s been four years since the gymnast’s splash on the world stage when she became the breakout sensation of the London Olympics, winning the all-around gold medal.


The breakout star from 2012 seemed in danger of getting left out. Douglas fell off the balance beam Friday and did so again on Sunday at SAP Arena, the second night of the trials competition, and finished seventh in the all-around.

But the uneven bars helped clinch her spot on the five-member team, as she joined Olympic newcomers Simone Biles, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman, another 2012 star. Douglas and Raisman were members of the gold medal-winning U.S. team in 2012.

Douglas had the third-highest point total on the bars at the trials.

“We needed the bar score,” said national team coordinator Martha Karolyi. “She is able to give bar score and besides that she has the other events, also. With some refinement you can use that in the team.”

It didn’t appear to be an easy call for the selection committee. Karolyi likes to see progress. Douglas finished three slots below her showing at nationals in St. Louis last month. Two of the alternates for Rio, MyKayla Skinner and highly promising youngster Ragan Smith, had better all-around totals than Douglas.

As expected, the night was pressure-packed. Even three-time world all-around champion Biles, who won the all-around at trials by more than two points, felt the gravity of the occasion. She stepped out of bounds on her floor exercise routine and later came off the balance beam.


She had plenty of company. Raisman and Hernandez also went out of bounds in their floor-exercise routines. You can guess it will be a tough training camp at the Karolyi’s ranch before the team leaves for Rio de Janeiro.

Aimee Boorman, the longtime coach of Biles, looked nervous during the proceedings. That is a common emotion, Boorman noted.

“She made mistakes,” Boorman said. “They were different mistakes from Day 1. So at least we corrected those. Honestly, her fall on beam today, she hasn’t missed a beam routine probably in two weeks. That was uncharacteristic of how she’s been training.

“I’m pleased with how she handled herself . It’s very, very tense out there.”

Said Biles: “It’s an amazing feeling. I don’t have the right words to describe it. But it’s definitely relief and excitement. . . . It’s very unreal. I still don’t believe it. But I’m sure it will hit me.”

The gymnasts noted that Karolyi shed a few tears when she made the team announcement. Karolyi will be retiring after the Olympics and said this was her most difficult call.

“I was very emotional,” she said, her voice rising. “. . . When I entered the room, it was emotional. It was because some of our very good girls are out of the team and I had the hardest time to let them know they’re not.”

Waiting out the decision of the selection committee was excruciating for the gymnasts and their coaches. Hernandez, in fact, said that there were plenty of tears earlier, after the event was completed, noting, “It was just a pool of gymnasts’ tears.”

“The wait — it was kind of long,” Douglas said. “It’s just nerve-wracking. ‘Who’s made it? Who are they going to choose? Am I on the team?’”

Leave it to Biles to offer the snappiest rejoinder. Assured of an automatic spot by virtue of her all-around score, she did her best to calm down Raisman.

“I said, ‘We’re too young to die,’” Biles said. “So no heart attacks will take place in this arena tonight.”

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