At the London Games in 2012, the United States took its first team Olympic title since 1996. While Gabby Douglas (seated, center) became the first African-American gymnast to win women's all-around gold, teammate Aly Raisman (seated, right) was the most decorated American gymnast of those Games, earning medals for beam (bronze) and floor exercise (gold) to go with her team gold.
The sport of gymnastics changes quickly, however, and in four years the national team has been transformed dramatically. Maggie Nichols (seated, left), a member of the 2015 world title team and the 2016 American Cup silver medalist, will likely make her Olympic debut. And some of the most intense competition of the Games may unfold between Douglas and phenom Simone Biles.
Biles will also be making her first Olympic appearance, the 4'9" dynamo has long been the front-runner to win all-around gold. (She's so accomplished there is a complicated floor move named after her.) Last fall
Biles became the first gymnast to win three consecutive world championships. Former gymnast Shannon Miller, who led the U.S. to team victory in '96, believes that this summer
Biles could win the only medal she doesn't have: Olympic gold.
"Simone has some of the most difficult skills and routines being performed in the world," Miller said. "But she also brings the execution."
Photos: Simon Bruty (team), Kohjiro Kinno (Biles in Houston)