Karolyi leaves USA Gymnastics in fine shape
Martha Karolyi doesn’t know who will replace her as national team coordinator for USA Gymnastics when she steps down later this month.
However, she does have a message: Don’t get cute.
“The program is already built,” Karolyi said. “I just really hope they don’t try to fix something that has proved itself and right now really shows that it’s the highest level program in the world.”
It’s hard to argue with the results.
The “Final Five” — a name chosen by Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez and MadisonKocian to honor Karolyi as she heads to retirement— will return to the US after the Rio closing ceremony with nine medals, including a second straight team gold and a record-tying four for Biles.
No other country earned even half that total. The Americans won medals in every event and placed the maximumtwocompetitors in every final except for the vault, which Biles captured with remarkable ease.
Even the team’s closest competitors are willing to admit that right now, the US stands alone at the top.
“When I competed I realized I didn’t have a chance to win a gold medal or silver medal, but it was so pleasant for me,” saidRussian star Aliya Mustafina, who finished third in the all-around behind Biles and Raisman.
The gap appears to be widening. The US has won every major international competition since 2011, a combination of the fruits of the semi-centralized system Karolyi perfected when she took over in 2001 and inability of traditional powers such as Russia and Romania to develop the talent necessary to keep pace.
The Romanians failed to even make the Games, a startling fall for a country that had finished on the podium in the team competition at every Olympics since 1972.
The Russians were a staggering eight points behind the Americans in the team final. The gap between second and eighth-placed Brazil was half that.
“I think it’s true to say that we could have fielded two teams here and they would have gone first and second,” Olympic coach Aimee Boorman said. “Maybe first, second, third or fourth if we threwin a third team.”
It’s not hype. The three Olympic alternates included MyKayla Skinner and Ragan Smith — both of whom finished ahead of Douglas and Kocian at the Olympic trials.
Maggie Nichols, a member of the 2015 world championships team, would have been in the mix if not for a knee injury in the spring that slowed her training.
The world will be playing catch-up for a long while.