Ready for Rio! Meet the Women's Gymnastics Olympic Team
Biles, the reigning three-time world all-around champion, is heavily favored to win the individual all-around gold medal in Rio – and for good reason. For the 19-year-old Texas native, the 'Michael Jordan of Gymnastics,' it would cap off an epic career: She's a three-time all-around world champion and a four-time national champ. She's also got an inspiring backstory: the 4-foot-8 athlete was born to a mother addicted to drugs and alcohol, and was placed in foster care until her maternal grandparents were able to take her in. "It's so unreal," Biles said at the conclusion of the trials. "I'm just proud and honored to be selected."
The 20-year-old was the first African-American gymnast to become the individual all-around champion at the Olympics in 2012, as well as earning gold with her team. She's hoping to make history again by defending her all-around win (something that hasn't been done since 1968) in Rio this summer, and she's been learning from her stumbles along the way. "Trying to make it happen again is definitely a lot of hard work and pushing myself every day is a lot of dedication, but it's worth it," Douglas told PEOPLE. And after the trials, she concluded, "It's very emotional. I'm so grateful and so honored."
Raisman was also a member of the "Fierce Five" group that claimed gold in London. At 22, she is the oldest person on the team – and her experience makes her a strong member. "Right now, she's in a very good place. She's trusting her strengths and not trying to do anything earthshaking, just do the routines she's prepared for, and I am very pleased with how she looks through the training session," Marta Karolyi said of her performance on Thursday. "It doesn't sink in at all," Raisman said after trials. "Hopefully we can bring Team U.S.A. another gold medal."
Hernandez capped off a very strong two nights of trials with a near-flawless beam routine … and chants of her name from the crowd of 17,000. The New Jersey native has an especially lively floor exercise that always ignites the crowd. The 16-year-old phemon is from New Jersey had Twitter buzzing, praising her as "my new favorite for the Rio Olympics" and "the 2016 Gabby Douglas." "There's something that sparkles," Wanda Hernandez said of her daughter during Sunday's NBC broadcast. "I love her smile. I love the joy. And I love the determination and the passion that she has." Hernandez is not only one of the youngest Team U.S.A. athletes to compete in Rio, she's also the first Latina gymnast on its gymnastics team since 2004.
Despite its dominance on the world stage, Team U.S.A. does have a relatively weak event: uneven bars. So one of the spots on the five-woman team was expected to go to a bars specialist. And that spot went to 19-year-old Kocian who turned in top scores on the apparatus at the trials. Kocian, who is deferring her scholarship to UCLA until after the Games, trains at the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy, the North Texas gym that produced the Olympic all-around champs – Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin. "I remember watching [Nastia] train for the '08 Olympics, and I wanted to follow right in her footsteps," she said.