Your guide to watching women’s gymnastics at the Rio Olympics

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

With the women’s gymnastics competition set to begin on Sunday in Rio, here’s what you need to know before watching this popular Olympic event.

The name to watch. The 19-year-old from Ohio has won four straight national championships and three consecutive world all-around titles. Biles doesn’t just beat the competition, she dominates it by a wide margin. Mary Lou Retton has called her the best she’s ever seen.

Not only is the all-around gold medal hers to lose, but Biles is also the favorite to win the floor exercise and the beam as well. Though really, the 4-foot-9 powerhouse has the potential to walk away with six gold medals overall in Rio.

Don't count out Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman — the two holdovers from the Fierce Five U.S. team that won gold in London in 2012. Douglas, as we all know, also won the all-around title in 2012, and finished second to Biles at the worlds in 2015. Raisman, who won individual gold in the floor exercise in 2012, just missed out on an all-around medal in London. But really, the all-around title is Biles’ to lose.

There's a great depth of talent among the American women. Along with Biles, Douglas and Raisman, the team is rounded out by Madison Kocian, world champion in the uneven bars, and 16-year-old Laurie Hernandez, an all-around powerhouse who finished third in the national competition and is a favorite of …

Marta, Marta, Marta

U.S. women’s coordinator Marta Karolyi. She of the famed Karolyi dynasty (alongside her husband, Bela) has had a hand in churning out champions from Nadia Comaneci to Kim Zmeskal, Kerri Strug to Mary Lou Retton. A nod from Marta can make or break a gymnast’s career.

Certainly, you don’t want to see this after a routine:

A neck embrace, on the other hand, may be the greatest blessing of all.

The moves

Gymnasts who are the first to execute a particular pass or move in competition often get the moves named after them. Simone Biles, for instance, is known for doing a tumbling pass that consists of a back handspring double-layout with a half-twist (meaning she lands blind) during her floor exercise routine that is now known as “The Biles.”

Look out for “The Dick”

Similar to the Biles, 19-year-old Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick has her own balance beam mount that has been officially recognized into the official gymnastics rule book:

The judging

Gone are the perfect 10s from the days of Nadia Comaneci and Mary Lou Retton.

Artistic gymnastics did away with the perfect 10 scale and incorporated a more convoluted system starting in 2006. Now, there's a start value based on a routine's degree of difficulty (somewhere between 14 and 17, usually, for elite gymnasts). Then nine judges then deduct based on difficulty and technical quality of movement and artistic composition and execution.

Clear as mud? Good. Enjoy the show.


AP Photo/Julio Cortez
Gabby Douglas – Elsa/Getty Images
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
(Photo by Joe Rimkus Jr./Miami Herald/MCT via Getty Images)
(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Although this wasn't my best meet due to dislocating my rib the day before in training, I'm thankful I was able to push through and have a pretty great meet. The highlight of my experience at the 46th world championships in Glasgow was getting this skilled named after myself. At my first worlds in 2013 I witnessed @victoriamoors_ , @simonebiles , @silvia_cp17 and a few others achieve and submit a brand new skill into the FIG code of points, what a legacy. Theirs, mine and so many others names will forever be recognized in the gymnastics world. I would like to thank all my friends, family, supporters and most of all, all my coaches that have helped me get to where I am today. Without you guys pushing me and looking up to me I would not have made it this far. I love you guys❤️ Always set dreams and goals for yourself no matter how big or how hard they seem, if you want it bad enough you will achive it. My biggest goal since 2013 was to submit a skill in the FIG code of points 🔓 My biggest dream since I was old enough to know what it was is to go to the Olympic Games 🔒 #rio2016OlympicGames Congratulations to my teammate @themarttt , you had the best meet of your life and what a competition to do that at! You have grown and improved so much as an athlete even in the last few years that we have been teammates. We did this together! Behold….. The Dick

A video posted by Marisa Dick (@marisadick) on