How Is A Gymnastics Team Captain Chosen? The Process Is More Straightforward Than You Think
On Tuesday, the U.S. women's gymnastics team took home the gold, beating out Russia and China for it. Aly Raisman, the team's captain, played a leading role in championing the them both through the Olympics in London in 2012 and now in Rio. It looks like her leadership skills, similarly to her floor routine during the first week of the games, are undeniably on point. So how is a gymnastics team captain chosen for the Olympics?
While the U.S. gymnastics teams are selected in the trials by the judges and officials, with the all-around champion automatically making it into the final five, it seems like the process for becoming team captain is pretty straightforward. Once chosen and finalized for the Olympics, the five members of the team each casts a vote to determine their leader. Raisman has had the honor of leading the women twice now, while the men's team voted Chris Brooks as their captain. Coincidentally, Raisman and Brooks are both the oldest members of their teams, at 22 and 29 years old, respectively. For Brooks, it's an Olympic debut in a team where three out of the five are returning Olympians. He unfortunately missed the 2013 and 2014 World Championships due to injuries sustained at the time.
But when it came down to the two Olympic selection events in June 2016, Brooks proved why he would make a great team captain. He executed 24 out of 24 routines with no major errors, and placed second in the all-around P&G Championships and Olympic Trials. Another interesting and inspiring fact about Brooks: He's officially the oldest first-time Olympian in over 40 years.
In the women's gymnastics team, Raisman's teammates can't help but praise her for her pep talk. According to WYNT, Gabby Douglas credits Raisman with helping her get through a pretty nerve-racking moment from the London team final. "I would have to say the moment that really stood out to me was beam," Douglas said, "and they put me up on beam, I was just so nervous. I looked at Aly and I was like, 'Aly, I don't think I can do this. I need to tell someone that they need to put somebody else in,' and I was so nervous. She's like, 'Gabby, shut up! You've been fine, your beam has been solid in training, just go out there and don't think about it, don't stress yourself out.' I'm like, 'Okay, okay.'"
Other teammates jokingly refer to Raisman as "Grandma Aly," a nickname borne out of her penchant for napping and yes, her age. Teammate and 2012 gold medalist Gabby Douglas told Team USA back in July: "Everyone calls her 'Grandma Aly' because she goes to bed [early] and takes a lot of naps and sleeps a lot and is just, you know, a health nut."
Raisman takes it all in stride, though. Check out this Instagram photo from June:
The caption reads: "Grandma and baby Simone rocking the red." She's clearly embracing the joke, just like she embraced her team's win today.