For only the second time in history, the US Women’s rhythmic gymnastics team qualified the country for the Olympic Games. Team USA secured the spot in the Games at the Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships this week in Stuttgart, Germany.
Team member Laura Zeng earned her own spot in history with the highest-ever result in the Championships’ individual all-around. Finishing 8th, Zeng bested the previous American holder of the title, Mary Sanders, who had a ninth place finish in 2003. With a seventh place finish in clubs, Zeng also became the first American to qualify for the world club final since 2003.
Such history-making deserves more attention than it’s getting. The only other time Team USA participated in Olympic rhythmic gymnastics was in 1996. The Games were in Atlanta that year, and as the host country, the USA automatically had a spot. It should not go unnoticed or uncelebrated that a relatively young and Olympically inexperienced group of gymnasts has qualified as a team and individually for the 2016 Games.
This has been a banner year for the rhythmic gymnastics team. This July, members of the team secured 10 medals at the Pan American Games in Toronto. The team also won gold in the group rhythmic competition and silver in the all-around. Perhaps it was prophetic: this is going to be a special team.
Let’s give this team some respect and attention. They’re doing something no US rhythmic gymnastics team has ever done. We should be honored and proud of these young women, their coaches, and families who have worked so hard for this amazing moment.