|Editor's note: Ivan Ivanov is one of four Olympic experts volunteering to assist in our coverage of the London Games. Ivanov owns and is a head coach and instructor at Elite Gymnastics Academy in Ashland, Mass., and a national staff member for USA Gymnastics. He also competed in six world championships and two Olympics. Ask him a question here.|
The last time America won the gold medal as a team was in 1996. In my opinion, they are the most consistent team. They finished in second place behind China in 2008.
There are four teams that have a good shot of winning the gold medal in the women's competition. I think USA is the favorite, as they were the 2011 world champions, and the other three teams who have a good shot are Romania, Russia, and China.
Jordyn Wieber is the 2011 all-around world champion, so she's in a pretty good spot. She's had a great year so far, and I think she's the favorite to win. Gabby Douglas doesn't have as much experience as Jordan, but has a good shot. Aly Raisman, from Massachusetts, has a really good shot at winning the all-around gold medal.
Victoria Komova from Russia has been doing pretty good lately. I think she's a very good candidate for a medal.
Romanian LaRisa Lordache could sneak in for a medal, as Romania beat Russia in the European Championships this year.
Based on last year's world championships, I think Japan, US, and China have a really good chance to be at the podium. Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura is the favorite to win in the all-around, as he has really dominated in the worlds, winning the last three.
As it was in 2008, the harder the trick, the higher the start value will be, giving them a better chance to get a higher score. Any score around 15.5 and up is a really good score. Based on the way that their routines are designed, gymnasts can get some bonuses for the difficulty of their skills.
The set of judges in panel A count the difficulty, while the other set of judges, panel B, only watch the execution. So, let's say the judges in panel A rate the difficulty to be 6.6, then the max score the gymnast can receive is a 16.6, with 10.0 coming from execution. That's how they get to the final score. Execution is still very, very important.
- July 28: Men's qualification
- July 29: Women's qualification
- July 30: Men's team final
- July 31: Women's team final
- Aug. 1: Men's all-around final
- Aug. 2: Women's all-around final
- Aug. 5: Women's vault final, men's floor exercise, pommel horse final
- Aug. 6: Women's uneven bars final, men's skill rings and vault final
- Aug. 7: Women's balance beam and floor exercise final, men's parallel and horizontal bar final
Why is it that younger girls tend to do better in major gymnastics while older men seem to do better? -- Jack, Framingham, Mass.
That's a good question. With girls aged 12, 13, 14, their weight is obviously smaller than it is at 15, 16, 17. A lot of times they are braver because they are younger, and they learn the skills faster. The juniors are almost as good as the seniors even though they don't have the experience because they learn the skills faster because their bodies are lighter, they feel stronger, they feel braver. When the guys are younger, their body is weaker. Around 19, 20, they gain strength and experience, that's why 23, 24 are great ages for men.
Gymnasts to watch
McKayla Maroney, USA
Sandra Izbasa, ROM
Oksana Chusovitina, GER ( This is her sixth Olympics -- very impressive. No female gymnast has accomplished this. Her first major competition was the world championships in 1991 in Indianapolis)
Victoria Komova, RUS
Beth Tweddle, Great Bratain
Huang Qiushuang, China
Gabby Douglas, USA
Sui Lu, China
Viktoria Komova, RUS
Catalina Ponor, ROM
Larisa Iordache, ROM
Jordyn Wieber, USA
Aly Raisman, USA
Larisa Iordache, ROM
Lauren Mitchell, AUS
Ksenia Afanasyeva, RUS