Updated June 3, 2012: We’ve added new names and noted those who are out of contention with an asterisk*. Ninety-nine percent of gymnasts will never make an Olympic team but these adults are performing at the elite level. Longevity is indeed part of the sport and inspiring to boot! Your favorites and suggestions from Mexico, Germany, Australia, Croatia and Russia are now in the list. Keep the names coming. We’ll keep updating! Look for an update before US Olympic Trials and a final list in early July when the official Olympic rosters have been submitted.
Note – the rankings we refer to are based on either a) The All Around‘s fantastic database of every FIG score by year or b) The FIG’s ranking system (which are helpful even though they are based on world cup results and some mystery point system).
This weekend, the first round of US Olympic Trials process starts in Chicago at the “Secret Classic.” The event is sponsored by Secret deodorant – it’s not actually a secret that the meet is happening *shakes head at comedy/confusion this sponsorship had caused*. To mark this important weekend, we have created a list of the stand-out adult gymnasts going for the Olympics.
Yes, we know that elite adults are different from normal human adults who do gymnastics under masters rules like us, but isn’t if fun to debunk stereotypes? Don’t you wish you could just read this list off to Tim Dagget on NBC when he says, “SoandSo is ancient for this sport,” or “Competing at this age is practically unheard of in gymnastics.” Well, we have always wanted to do that! So, here is our gift to you: an international myth-busting list of gymnasts and their ages.
This isn’t every adult elite competing for an Olympic spot, there are plenty more. These are just the fan favorites, FIG ranked leaders or those who have the best shots at making their team. It was hard to decide who counts as an “adult” in gymnastics terms. We chose men turning 25+ and women 20+ this year. Those ages seem to be the cutoffs in terms of stereotypes of the sport. What do you think? Really, we just want to list gymnasts who motivate you, disprove stereotypes and might have a shot at London.
This is an ongoing project and will be updated as we get closer to the date. We welcome your additions, comments, complaints and suggestions.
39- year-old Jordan Jovtchev of Bulgaria single handedly put “silver fox” in the vocabulary for London. This will be his sixth freakin’ Olympics. He’s won Olympic and World medals. He’s been called the George Clooney of Gymnastics. He’s stayed with the sport despite being robbed of the rings gold in Athens and he’s 5′ 7″. Basically, he eats gymnastics age stereotypes for breakfast.
38- year-old Jenny Hansen* of the US ended her Olympic bid in May (full story here) but she’s always up to something inspiring and fun. In the meantime, you can watch her doing stunts on re-runs of Make It Or Break It. We are sure she won’t be out of the spotlight for long… Twitter: @jhansen2012, Facebook.
36- year-old Oksana Chusovitina of Germany, via Uzbekistan, via the United Team, via the Russian Team will be 37 when The Games start. She’s an Olympic gold medalist and the defending World silver medalist from Tokyo. She gets a standing ovation every time she competes. The picture says it all.
35-year-old Dzmitry Kaspiarovich (also spelled Dimitri Kasparovich) of Belarus has been a mainstay of every major gymnastics event for the past 20 years. Like Chusovitina, his FIG bio doesn’t even go back far enough to cover his career appearances. Vault is his jam. He placed 6th on the event in Beijing and Tokyo; 3rd at the Rotterdam Worlds in 2010. Power seems to be the key to longevity in this sport.
35-year-old Mitja Petkovsek of Slovenia is ranked first on parallel bars and has been killing it in every world cup so far this year.
33-year-old Yann Cucherat of France has been in three Olympics already and is no slouch on high bar.
30-year-old Evgenij Spiridonov of Germany helped the team win a silver medal at the 2010 Worlds in Rotterdam. He’s continued to play his part in helping them to qualify a full team to the Olympics. He might even make all around finals like he did in 2010.
29-year-old Daiane Dos Santos of Brazil first wowed us with her piked double arabian in Anaheim. Now, the two-time Olympic floor finalist is hoping to make a third Olympic team (website).
29-year-old Pierre-Yves Beny of France made three finals at the 2011 European Championships.
28-year-old Chen Yibing of China was the world champion on rings in 2011 and the Olympics champion in Beijing.
28-year-old Isaac Botella Perez of Spain ranks in the top 20 on FX and will be making his second Olympic appearance.
27-year-old Anton Golotsutskov of Russia is a vault kamikaze. He was one of the first to do a handspring front 1/2 back tuck out. He vaults a yurchenko double pike now. He’s nuts! And his vaulting is better now at almost 30 than it was when he was doing this stuff at 17 at the terrifying 2003 Anaheim Worlds. Yes, his vaults are actually safer now that he’s older. Hats off to you, you maniac. Watch his vaults here.
27-year-old, three-time world champion, Beth Tweddle of England is one of the top five bar workers in the world. She is combining multiple release skills for a start value of 7.1! Insane! Aside from that she is a huge star in England. Twitter: @BethTweddleNews, facebook, website.
27-year-old Josh Jefferis of Australia just won the sole Olympic spot for his country’s men. He was 12 AA at World in Aarhus, but that was a long time ago. Perhaps the cheers from down under will bring him good fortune.
27-year-old Matthias Fahrig of Germany has had a rough relationship with the German gymnastics federation recently. This year, things seem to be better. They sent him to help the team qualify to the Olympics at the test event and he recently placed 5th on vault at the European Championships in May. If he can commit to the team, he’ll be a great addition for London.
26- year-old Jon Horton has won every medal possible for a male gymnast in the US. He’s an NCAA champion, and has bronze and silver medals from both Worlds and the Olympics. Beyond that, he’s married to a doctor. Trophy husband suits him nicely I’d say. Twitter: @j_horton11, website.
26-year-old Jessica Lopez of Venezuela first got our attention while competing for the University of Denver. She’s continuing to improve as an elite, placing 10th AA in Rotterdam and 24th AA in Tokyo.
26-year-old Epke Zonderland is currently the only Dutchman holding a ticket to London (but that could change, see Jeffrey Wammes story below). He is known for his wild, risky and exciting high bar routines (watch his Maribor 2012 3-in-a-row-release routine with a start value of 7.freakin’9! here). If he hits he can win and he just became the European Champion on high bar. After placing 7th in Beijing and 5th in Tokyo, this Olympics could finally be his time for high bar gold. Twitter: @epkez, website.
25-year-old Jeffrey Wammes of the Netherlands placed 8th on vault in Tokyo. He came out last year and could be the first out gymnast to compete at the Olympics. If Zonderland falters that is… Wammes filed a lawsuit to fight for the only Dutch spot in London which had initially been given to Epke Zonderland. Now Zonderland will have to “show readiness” or the spot could go to Wammes. Wammes only finished 15th on vault at Europeans, not helping his case but only time will tell. Facebook, website.
25-year-old phenom and German super-celebrity Fabian Hambuechen is basically already on the team. He’s single handedly revived German Gymnastics back to its former glory. As a teen, he bore the nickname Harry Potter – wizard of the high bar, until he got lasik surgery. Now glasses-free, he’s published a memoir complete with details of his sex life. Oh, Fabian, you sexy little beast. Watch for this former world champ in high bar finals. Website.
25-year-old Chris Brooks. He is a world medalist and 2010 national high bar champion. Also, the loudest and most encouraging voice on the floor. Yes, even more than Danel Leyva’s dad. Twitter: @cbrooks_wpr.
24-year-old Laura Ann Chong was a favorite as a Beaver in the PAC-10 before heading back to her native Canada after graduation to give elite one more shot. She made bar finals at Canadian Nationals this week. Twitter: @LAchong88, website.
24-year-old Tina Erceg of Croatia knows how to get attention for her little country. She wears outrageous leos and has the skills to back them up. The impossible round off to arabian beam mount is named after her. Now she rocks a triple full floor mount. Homegirl has skilllzzz and has already qualified to London.
24-year-old Catalina Ponor is back and looking better than ever. She has even cleaned up those helicopter legs (a tiny ity bity bit). Ponor is a multi-time Olympic and world medalist known for her dominatrix leotards and hitting when it counts.
24-year-old Anna Li of Chicago. NCAA champion and 2011 world champion alternate. Considered one of the top bar workers in the world who has yet to compete on the world stage. Twitter: @AnnaLi_88, facebook, website.
23-year-old Kim Bui been a rock for Germany since 2006 but has never made an Olympic team. She was instrumental in helping Germany to qualify to London.
23-year-old Louis Smith of England is a sponsor’s dream and he has the medals to back it up. I know we said we’d only cover 25+ for men…but it’s Louis Smith. He just can’t be ignored. He’s selling BMWs for crying out loud. If he doesn’t win a medal on pommel horse in London, heads will roll!
23-year-old Imogen Cairns of Great Britain placed 5th at English Championships. This Beijing olympian has been one of GB’s best vaulters, but competition will be tight.
23-year-old, 2005 world champion, Chellsie Memmel* has been plagued most recently by shoulder injuries yet insists on continuing to do jam to inverts on bars. Chellsie performed very well at podium training for Chicago “Secret” Classic but her petition to Nationals was denied by USAG (read Dvora Meyers piece on the controversy here) Twitter: @CMemmel.
22-year-old, 2008 AA Olympic champion, fashion icon, designer, Supergirl and Texan, the one and only, Nastia Liukin. She competed on beam at the Chicago Classic and looked amazing.Twitter: @NastiaLiukin, facebook, website.
22-year-old Dasha Joura, a fan favorite, known for her presentation and flair may be back to dazzle again in London. She proved that her return is the real deal when she became the 2012 vault champion last week.
22-year-old Chloe Sims of Australia was the Commonwealth Games AA champion in 2006, beating out the likes of Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs and Hollie Dykes. She became a fan favorite at that event when, in a Stick It-esque movie moment, she motioned to silver medalist Elyse to join her on the gold medal podium. She made a case for herself by placing 3rd on bars at Australian Nationals. She has a fantastic new attitude to go with her 6.2 SV!
22-year-old Sandra Izabsa of Romania is back in action after a torn achilles and pre-Tokyo Worlds injury.
22-year-old Goksu Uctas will be the first Turkish gymnast ever to complete in the Olympic Games. It’s even more impressive since she lived through the 1999 earthquake that killed 17,000 people in her country. Her family lived in a tent for a year afterwards.
22-year-old Elsa Garcia is the first woman to put Mexican women’s gymnastics on the map since Brenda Magaña did the tipple back dismount off of bars. Known for her exquisite presentation, performance quality and cheerful attitude (like when she peeled herself up off of the mat in a giggle fit after completely eating it on vault in Tokyo). She or Ana Lago will get the one Olympic spot for Mexico.
21-year-old Jade Barbosa of Brazil, known for her perpetual frown, self-injuries via funky salutes and putting Brazilian gymnastics on the map 21-year-old Marissa King of England/Univeristy of Florida is probably the best vaulter the UK has and is known as “beam ninja” by her teammates at Florida. The UK were very weak on vault in Tokyo. She would be a great addition to the team. Twitter: @TheBrittRiss.
21-year-old Kseniia Afanaseva of Russia is the 2011 defending World Champion on Floor and led her team to a 2010 team World Championship. She has an attitude reminiscent of Khorkina and Produnova – do or die or get the hell out of my way. She should make the team, and if she does look out! We may even see another warrior eyebrow.
21-year-old Ashleigh Brennanbecame the Australian national champion on May 25th. If she makes the team, this will be her second Olympic appearance.
20-year-old Lisa Hill of Germany. Known for her bar routines competed at Worlds in Tokyo.
20-year-old Rebecca Downie of England was 12th AA in Beijing. She suffered an achilles tear in January, but came back in time to help her team qualify for the London Olympics at Tokyo Worlds. Twitter: @BDownie, website.
20-year-old Kristina Vaculik is hoping to make her first Olympic team after taking a year off from Stanford to prepare, or build her case, as is the requirement in Canada. She just won the national championship and is pretty much a lock to make the the Olympic team with Peng Peng Lee out with an ACL tear. Twitter: @KristinaVaculik.
20-year-old Yamilet Peña will be the first ever Dominican gymnast to compete in Olympic Games. She qualified at the Tokyo Worlds by doing a Prodnuova vault – a handspring double front. Ninety nine percent of the time she lands on her back or butt but occasionally she makes it to her feet and it’s very exciting.
Original Post May 25,2012