Between the 6th and the 21st of August, 2016, women from around the world will come together to compete at gymnastic events at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. One of the women to watch at this year’s games is Simone Biles from Team USA. The 19 year old from Columbus is being tipped as a hot favorite to take out anywhere up to 5 gold medals in Rio.
This is her first Olympic games but she has had a remarkable career with a total of 14 World Championship medals, 10 of which are gold as well as having taken pole podium position twice in the Pacific Rim Championships and at last year’s American Cup. The world’s eyes will be on this young woman, her World Championship medal haul is a record breaker and she’s widely anticipated to dominate the Women’s events this year.
Arena Olímpica do Rio. The venue opened in 2007 and hosted the Pan American games in December of its opening year. It has a capacity of just under 15,000 for sporting events and is Rio’s premier arena, having played host to everything from Iron Maiden concerts to the Chicago Bulls since its construction. This year’s games mark the first time that all gymnastics events will be held in the same venue and it will also be used to host wheelchair basketball events as a part of the 2016 Paralympics later in the year.
Women’s Gymnastics at the Olympic Games
Gymnastics itself is one of the oldest Olympic sports and has been a part of every modern Summer Olympics since 1896. Women were first allowed to perform at the Olympics in 1928 and since this happened the Artistic Women’s Gymnastics events have become one of the most popular sports at the games. The first ever perfect 10 in the sport was won by Romanian Nadia Comaneci at Montreal in 1976 with another being awarded at the same games to Soviet gymnast Nellie Kim.
Comaneci was 14 when she took out the highest accolade ever awarded in Women’s Olympic Gymnastics and this began a trend of very young women being pushed to perfect by their coaches to perform at the games. As a result of this trend, by the time Sydney 2000 rolled around the minimum age for competition in the sport had been raised to 16. This did not stop China from mis-stating the age of Dong Fangxiao at the Sydney games who was just 14 when she was competed. It took a full 10 years for the Olympic committee to strip the Chinese of their team Bronze and subsequently award it to The United States as a result of this controversy.
A games with a rough start
The 2016 games have been the subject of a lot of issues and are being held at a time when Brazil is suffering both economically and immersed in political turmoil. In the true Olympic spirit though it is a games full of hope, hope for people to come together, forget their differences and compete without fear.
The girls from Team USA have already arrived in the Olympic village and they’ve been very active on social media, with slews of selfies, happy messages and an air of excitement. Let the games begin!