2016 Olympic Gymnastics Trials and Team Selection Process

How and when the 2016 Olympic gymnastics teams will be chosen

Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas
This power duo is expected to lead the US women's team to Rio. © Alex Livesey / Getty Images

The Lowdown:

When will the Olympic gymnastics teams be announced?

Both the men's and women's Olympic teams will be named after their respective Olympic Trials.

Men: The Olympic team will be announced June 26, 2015 after the men's Olympic Trials, with the alternates announced on June 27.

Women: After the final day of women's Olympic Trials, on July 8, 2016.

How many athletes will be named to the team?

Five gymnasts will be named for each team, with up to three replacement athletes named as well.

(These are also called alternates).

Why are the men's and women's teams being named at different times?

Good question. The men's and women's programs have different philosophies on timing. The women's program prefers to name the team at the last possible date to see which gymnasts are most ready at that point in the time, while the men prefer to choose their team a little earlier and give the team members some time before they head to Rio. There are pros and cons to both systems.

The women will hold their nationals at the same time as the men's Olympic trials in late June.

How can I watch Olympic Trials?

For the women (held in San Jose, California):
Friday, July 8: NBC, 9 pm
Sunday, July 10: NBC, 8:30 pm

For the men (held in St. Louis, Missouri):
Thursday, June 23: NBCSN, 8:30 pm
Saturday, June 25: NBC, 9 pm

And nationals?

The US nationals for women (called the P&G Championships) will air on NBC on Friday, June 24, and Sunday, June 26, at 9 pm ET.

The event is held in conjunction with the men's Olympic Trials, and the junior men's nationals.

The senior men's US nationals (also called P&G Championships) will also air on NBC on Sunday, June 5 at 2 pm ET. This event, in Hartford, Connecticut, will be held at the same time as the women's US Classic, a national qualifier for the women.

Got all that?

Other ways to watch and follow these meets:

USA Gymnastics will undoubtedly have have live updates, video and more on its Facebook page and on Twitter for all of these events. And info on live streaming will be added here too.

The official links for each event, and to buy tickets:

Hartford2016.com (Women's US Classic; Senior men's nationals)
StLouis2016.com (Senior men's Olympic Trials; Women's nationals)
SanJose2016.com (Women's Olympic Trials)

Who will make the Olympic teams?

That is, of course, the million dollar question. Some top contenders:

Women:
Simone Biles: Barring injury, Biles will be on the team. She's the best gymnast in the world right now, and her three straight world all-around titles from 2013-2015 more than prove that point. She is the favorite to win the Olympic all-around gold, as well as gold on beam and floor, and quite possibly vault as well. We're not exaggerating.

Gabby Douglas: Remember her? Of course you do. Douglas won the 2012 Olympic all-around title, and is back, hoping to become the first all-around champ to return to the Games since Nadia Comaneci did it in 1980. No pressure or anything. But Douglas has been rocking her comeback, and placed second all-around to Biles at the 2015 worlds.

Aly Raisman: The three-time London medalist is also back for another round, and was a part of the 2015 world team, alongside Douglas and Biles.

And there are so many other exciting gymnasts, from Laurie Hernandez to Maggie Nichols. Read up on all of the top picks for the 2016 women's Olympic team.

Men:
Sam Mikulak: A member of the 2012 Olympic team, Mikulak has since become the leader of the US men's program, with three US national titles.

Danell Leyva: The Olympic bronze medalist in the all-around in 2012, Leyva has won two world silver medals since then -- a silver on high bar in 2015, and a silver on parallel bars in 2014.

Donnell Whittenburg: Whittenburg has been a stalwart on the scene since 2013, and is one of the best vaulters in the country, if not the world. He was the runner-up to Mikulak at the 2015 nationals.

But just as it is on the women's side, there are so many other gymnasts in the mix. Watch for 2012 Olympians John Orozco and Jake Dalton, among many others. Read up on all of the top picks for the 2016 men's Olympic team.

How is the team actually chosen?

The simple answer:

For the women the only guaranteed berth is the all-around champ at Olympic Trials. The other four will be selected by committee.

For the men, the gymnasts who place first and second in the all-around at the Olympic Trials are guaranteed a spot on the team if they also place in the top three on three of the six individual events. The other three are chosen by the selection committee, and if either of the top two all-arounders don't meet the individual event requirements, it's possible that four or even all five team spots will be chosen by committee.

So how does the committee decide?

It's a complicated question of course, but a number of factors come into play: Results from Olympic Trials, nationals, and other major competitions; difficulty scores; execution scores; the ability to hit under pressure and consistently perform; and overall health and fitness.

There is no standard calculation for picking the team -- the decision is no longer simply the top 5 or 6 or 7 all-arounders at Olympic Trials.

The selection committee also chooses certain members for their ability to complement their teammates. So, for example, if Aly Raisman is chosen to the team, she is very strong on floor, but weaker on bars. So a bars specialist could help round out the team quite well in that scenario.

It's sometimes controversial and the final team is often hotly debated -- as it is with most Olympic teams that are chosen.

Still want to know more about the team selection?

The full Olympic selection procedures for women.
The full Olympic selection procedures for men.

What if someone gets injured? Can they still make the Olympic team?

It depends. If a female gymnast is unable to compete at nationals, she can petition to Olympic Trials. But according to the official rules, she cannot petition directly onto the team.

(This gives us nightmares of a gymnast getting the flu at Olympic Trials and trying to perform so she can still be selected. Eeks!)

A male gymnast who is sick or injured can petition into Olympic Trials or even directly onto the Olympic team. Though, of course, this would only be used in extraordinary circumstances and it would still be up to the selection committee to chose that athlete for the team.

And in all scenarios, the gymnast must be healthy enough to compete by the time the Olympics rolls around or can be replaced, for obvious reasons.

How old must gymnasts to be to make the team?

Female gymnasts must be born in 2000 or earlier, meaning they will turn 16 on or before Dec. 31, 2016.

Male gymnasts must be born in 1998 or earlier -- meaning they'll turn 18 sometime in 2016.

What are the qualifying meets leading up to Trials, and how do gymnasts make it to Trials?

For women: The US nationals / P&G Championships is the qualifying meet into Trials. The top 8 in the all-around automatically head to Trials, and the selection committee can add just about anyone else they choose, whether she competed at nationals or is petitioning to Trials because of injury, illness, or another reason.

This is important -- because they don't want to exclude gymnasts from competing at Trials because of some fluke event.

There are a number of ways to qualify into US nationals -- the American Classic and US Classic are qualifying competitions, and if a gymnast achieves a 54.00 all-around at one of those, or at an international competition in the fall of 2015 or in 2016, she qualifies. World team members from 2015 are automatically qualified to nationals as well.

For men: The men chosen for the senior national team at the conclusion of US nationals (P&G Championships) will compete at Trials. More detail on how that team is selected will be added as we get closer to nationals, but it is usually a combination of those with the highest all-around totals and excellent event specialists.

Men qualify to nationals through achieving specific scores at the Winter Cup, NCAA Championships, or by petition.

Who's been on previous Olympic teams for the U.S.?

Ah, Olympic nostalgia. Satisfy yours by checking out our lists of all of the US Olympic teams:

US women's Olympic teams (1936 on)
US men's Olympic teams (1904 on)

Or, do you just want to remember the London Olympic teams? We've got you covered too. Here's what they're up to.

The women's Olympic team in 2012 (called the Fierce Five):
The team won the first Olympic gold since 1996.
Gabby Douglas -- 2012 Olympic all-around champ; back in contention for 2016 team
McKayla Maroney -- Olympic silver medalist on vault, and queen of the Not Impressed face; no longer competing
Aly Raisman -- Olympic gold medalist on floor; back in contention for 2016 team
Kyla Ross -- A leader for the US team in 2013 and 2014; will compete NCAA gymnastics for UCLA next year
Jordyn Wieber -- The 2011 world all-around champion; now serves as a team manager for the UCLA gymnastics team
Sarah Finnegan, Alternate -- Now competes for LSU in NCAA gymnastics
Anna Li, Alternate -- Now retired and coaching gymnastics
Elizabeth Price, Alternate -- Now competes for Stanford in NCAA gymnastics

The men's Olympic team in 2012:
Jake Dalton -- In contention for the 2016 team
Jonathan Horton -- Not currently competing; now a father of two 
Danell Leyva-- In contention for the 2016 team
Sam Mikulak-- In contention for the 2016 team
John Orozco-- In contention for the 2016 team
Chris Brooks, alternate -- In contention for the 2016 team
Steven Legendre, alternate -- In contention for the 2016 team
Alex Naddour, alternate -- In contention for the 2016 team