Road To Rio – Olympic Team Selection Procedures




The P&G National Championships are this weekend and then shortly after will be the Women’s Olympic Trials on July 8-10.

Have you ever wondered how an athlete qualifies from the P&G Championships to the Olympic Trials?  And then how she is chosen from the Trials to the Olympic Team?

Well, lets first talk about how an athlete qualifies to the Olympic Trials.  She can qualify from one of two ways to the Olympic Trials from the P&G Championships.

The first way she can qualify to the Olympic Trials is by placing in the top 8 in the All-Around after both full days of competition.

If she does not qualify by placing in the top 8 in the All-Around, she can attend the Olympic Trials by being chosen by the Selection Committee (National Team Coordinator, Director of Elite Athlete Programs, and Athlete Representative).  In order to be chosen, she must prove herself to be competitive for a spot on the team or petition for a spot at the Trials.

Now that the athletes have qualified or have been chosen to compete at the Olympic Trials, how does one qualify from Trials to the Olympic Team?

Shannon Miller on Beam at the 1996 Olympic Games. Photo:
Shannon Miller on Beam at the 1996 Olympic Games.

Shannon Miller, Olympic Gold Medalist, recalls, “While the Olympic trials process was a bit different for me leading up to the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games, the Trials process continues to be grueling. It is well known that it is so difficult to make the Olympic team in the United States, that the Olympic Games really becomes the icing on the cake.”

The athletes competing at the Olympic Trials will be vying for 5 spots, with an additional 3 replacement athlete spots, on the U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Team.

At the culmination of the 2 day Trials, the athlete ranked in the #1 spot in the All-Around is guaranteed a spot on the Olympic Team!

The other remaining 4 spots and the 3 replacement athletes will be chosen by the Selection Committee, lead by Martha Karolyi.

The Selection Committee will use the following criteria for choosing the remaining athletes as spelled out in the USA Gymnastics, Athlete Selection Procedures, 2016 Olympic Games, Women’s Artistic Gymnastics, August 28, 2015 (Amended August 1, 2016):

  • Team needs and medal potential
  • Composite strength of all the Olympic Team Members
  • Past domestic and international competitive performances
  • The start values (difficulty scores) of all potential team members on various events
  • The execution (execution scores) of all potential team members
  • Consistency (percentage of hit routines) shown by the gymnast in the competitions and camps
  • World Class presentation
  • Competitive readiness that allows for maximum performance
  • Physical capability to fulfill the training plan as directed by the National Team Coordinator
  • Demonstrated professional attitude and ability to positively contribute to the team dynamic


All team members and the replacement athletes will be announced immediately following the Trials live on NBC.

“I will say that regardless of the process, it is absolutely nerve-racking to await your name being called for that team. It is a night filled with tears of sorrow as well as tears of joy. All of these athletes have trained years and years to reach this dream, and what I think they understand now, more than ever, is that it isn’t about the final night of competition. Rather it’s about making each and every moment count in the years leading up to that moment.” states Shannon Miller.

Some believe that Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles, and Aly Raisman are guaranteed a spot on the team.

Gabby Douglas - Reigning Olympic All-Around Champion Photo:
Gabby Douglas – Reigning Olympic All-Around Champion

If this is true, P&G Championships and the Olympic Trials are set to be a fight to the end for those 2 spots and the 3 replacement spots.

BUT this is gymnastics and ANYTHING can happen!


Related Articles:

Road To Rio – Understanding Elite Scoring

Road To Rio – Round 1

Road to Olympic Gold Revealed

Mark Your Olympic Calendar

Olympic Gymnastics Attire Unveiled

How Did They Come Up With That Score?

What’s Your Bar Angle?

Judges Shorthand

Becoming A Gymnastics Judge – Part 2

Becoming A Gymnastics Judge – Part 1

Scoring A Front Handspring Vault



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