Do you prefer gritty intensity, or pure joy?
Gabby Douglas, 16, of Virginia Beach, considers fun and smiles as central to her routines as strong landings. Jordyn Wieber, 17, earned the world all-around title last year with impeccable concentration and a stoic demeanor.
Both will contend for the individual all-around gold medal. Together they make the U.S. women’s team arguably the best gymnastics squad in the world, with its sights on the first U.S. gold medal in the team event since 1996.
Douglas surprisingly emerged over the past year, in time to engage Wieber in a handful of unexpectedly gripping competitions. After finishing second to Wieber in the all-around at the Visa Championships in June, she edged her by a tenth of a point at the U.S. Olympic trials in San Jose a month later.
The two will battle in London for the all-around title, while also trying to help lead the U.S. women’s team to only its second gymnastics gold in history.
The daughter of an Air Force staff sargeant father who recently served in Afghanistan, Douglas left her family at age 14 to move to West Des Moines, Iowa, to train under Liang Chow, the coach of 2008 Olympic gold medal winner Shawn Johnson.
Wieber, who trains under John Geddert in DeWitt, Mich., has dominated the sport since 2008, going undefeated for about a year leading up to the trials.
“I usually don’t get too nervous, I just get excited and anxious and ready to go,” Wieber said during the trials. “To be able to go out there and show off your routines . . . whenever it pays off in competition, it’s just the most amazing thing.”