The summer of 2014 is going to be one of the most exciting in recent U.S. gymnastics history. Not only do we have 2013 World Champion Simone Biles preparing to defend her national title, but we have 2012 Olympic Champion Gabby Douglas making her much-anticipated return to the sport.
The two champions will provide an interesting setup for this year’s U.S. meets. Gabby is exceptional on uneven bars and beautiful on balance beam, and in 2012 she had an excellent Amanar vault and an exciting floor routine. Simone is amazing on vault and floor and has very strong bars and beam routines. To some degree, it’s one of those situations where a “bars/beam” gymnast is pitted against a “vault/floor” gymnast. The difference on this occasion is that Gabby and Simone do not really fit into those stereotypes. In 2012, Gabby was an all-arounder who could score 15+ on every apparatus. At the beginning of 2013, Simone was noted as a “vault/floor gymnast”, but after finishing fourth on uneven bars and third on balance beam at 2013 Worlds, that changed.
Neither Simone nor Gabby has competed since the competitions in which they won their major all-around titles. As we all know, Gabby took a gymnastics break after London and Simone has had a string of injuries since Antwerp. This makes their first senior competition together all the more intriguing.
Could this duo end up finishing 1-2 at the P&G Championships? It would certainly be one of the most incredible meets in the history of U.S. Nationals.
Simone is planning to compete at the Secret U.S. Classic on August 2nd, and Gabby is planning to make her comeback at P&Gs, which will be held August 21st-24th. However, nothing is definite. Simone is still coming back from injury and Martha Karolyi has stated that she would like Gabby to compete at Classics. If she and Gabby decide it’s the best plan, we could see her return earlier than expected.
It’s possible that Simone’s routines will not have changed too much since Worlds. She does have new floor choreography and she’s made some changes to her tumbling and leaps.
But the status of Gabby’s routines is much more questionable. Has there been enough time for her to train an Amanar vault? How difficult will her uneven bar routine be? And how will she adapt to the new Code of Points changes for beam and floor tumbling?
At the July national team camp, Simone won the senior all-around verification gold medal. USA Gymnastics never reveals details about unofficial camp competitions, but based on the information we’ve seen, Simone will definitely be the frontrunner heading into this summer.
Simone is accustomed to being the favorite, and she blew away the competition at the World Championships last October. And in years past, Gabby Douglas has thrived on being the underdog. With both gymnasts in a familiar position, it will be fascinating to see how their first all-around meeting unfolds.
What are your thoughts, do you think that Gabby Douglas will compete in August? Leave a comment below.
Article by Anna Rose Johnson
Image via Getty Images.