At the London Olympics this summer, artistic gymnastics teams will only have five members (down from six in 2000-2008, and seven before that). All five on each team, along with up to three alternates for each team, will be named by the end of the 2012 Olympic Trials, held June 28-July 1 in San Jose, California.
This is a departure from the 2004 and 2008 Games, where the women's team was named after a selection camp held after the Olympic Trials. "Basically, it comes down to timing," USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny said, "The bottom line is the timing is conducive to selecting a full team because there are only a few weeks between the dates of our trials and the Olympic Games. We're very excited about the fact we'll leave San Jose with full teams."
The full selection procedures are outlined in a 43-page document for both men and women gymnasts. Here are the highlights, from USA Gymnastics:
1. The individual all-around champion from the combined two-day competition at the US Olympic Trials automatically qualifies for the US Olympic Team.
2. The remaining four athletes and up to three replacement athletes will be determined by the selection committee from among the competitors at the US Olympic Trials. The selection committee is Martha Karolyi, Steve Rybacki and Nastia Liukin. (If Liukin is competing for a spot on the team, she will be replaced by 2004 Olympian Terin Humphrey.)
3. All team members and alternates (replacement athletes) will be announced on July 1, after the final day of competition at the Olympic Trials. The team must then be approved by the US Olympic Committee.
4. Petitions to the 2012 US nationals (called the Visa Championships) and/or the Olympic Trials will be considered by the selection committee from athletes who have legitimate injuries, illness, or unusual circumstances and who have demonstrated a high level of international potential within the last year. Athletes are not eligible to petition directly to the Olympic Team.
5. Athletes must be at least 16 years old by Dec. 31, 2012.
6. The full women's Olympic team selection procedures.
1. The top two all-around athletes, based on the combined final results of the 2012 US nationals (called Visa Championships) and Olympic Trials, automatically qualify to the Olympic Team as long as each athlete also places within the top three scores on three of the six individual events.
2. Two athletes -- either by automatic qualification or selected by committee -- will be named immediately after the end of the men’s competition on June 30 at the Olympic Trials. The remaining three Olympic Team athletes and the replacement athletes (alternates) will be selected within 24 hours. The full team will be announced at the women's competition on July 1. The team must be approved by the US Olympic Committee. The selection committee may name up to three replacement athletes to the Olympic Team at the Olympic Trials based on discretionary criteria. Up to five athletes may be selected if no athlete meets the automatic qualification criteria.
3. Petitions directly to the Olympic Team may only be submitted by athletes who were on the 2008 Olympic Team or 2009, 2010, or 2011 World Championships teams, and/or an athlete who has participated in a selection event and is in the top three of the National Points Ranking System based on completed competitions. Any petitioning athlete must have an injury, illness, or special circumstance that prohibits him from fully participating in the selection process.
4. Athletes must be at least 16 years old by Dec. 31, 2012.
5. The full men's Olympic team selection procedures
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