How the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team Powered Past the Sexual Abuse Scandal That Shattered Their Sport

Chiles subsequently punched her ticket to the Olympics at the June trials in St. Louis, Mo., second only to Biles. Sunisa Lee and Grace McCallum, both 18, round out the Phenomenal Four (just taking that one out for a test drive) while McKayla Skinner, 24, and Jade Carey, 21, qualified to compete in individual events. 

“I’m freaking out, it’s so crazy, I’ve been waiting for this moment forever,” Skinner, a team alternate in Rio, told Today‘s Hoda Kotb in a group appearance with the Sensational Six (again, just checking…) after the trials. McCallum, one of the youngsters on the squad, said, “You just have to remember, I’ve done a thousand of these routines in the gym, so you just have to trust yourself and trust your gymnastics that you know what you’re doing.”

Biles admitted to Sports Illustrated recently that she actually felt “so ashamed” in Rio for winning only four gold medals instead of five, her fifth medal a bronze on balance beam. (She and swimmer Katie Ledecky led all American women in 2016 with five medals apiece.)  But the years of training and winning (she now has 19 World Championship gold medals and 25 medals overall) and coming into her own since then have made all the difference.

Asked what sort of advice she might have for other young women in terms of coping with pressure and weighty expectations, Biles told E! News in May, “My advice is to be your own person. Don’t let anybody tell you different. If you have goals, dreams—whatever it is, go for it, don’t let anybody hold you back. Because it’s going to seem scary and it should, but in the end it will pay off, even if you’re walking on that road alone. Just do it, go for it and believe in yourself.”

As for herself as she trained for the Olympics, she was simply excited about competing, “showing off the athleticism that we’ve worked and trained so hard for.” 

And no matter what happens on the floor, beam, vault and uneven bars in Tokyo, we will all have witnessed an indescribable feat of strength.

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