High-SchoolGirl: Shawn Johnson
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty ImagesReigning world champion Jordyn Wieber won her second straight U.S. title on Sunday in St. Louis.
Two 16-year-old Americans are poised to take their budding gymnastics rivalry to London and give the United States a solid 1-2 punch at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Jordyn Wieber, the reigning world champion, won her second straight U.S. title on Sunday, beating Gabby Douglas by 0.2.
"I usually thrive off the pressure, and it's so fun to have someone else so close," Wieber told The Associated Press. "It's more exciting."
The Olympic trials will be held June 28 through July 1 in San Jose, Calif., and the Olympic team will be announced July 1. The trials champion is guaranteed a spot on the five-person London squad. Aly Raisman, who finished third at the U.S. championships, reigning Olympic champion Nastia Liukin and fellow Beijing star Alicia Sacramone were among the gymnasts who made the cut for the trials competition.
At the 2008 Games in Beijing, it was the duo of Liukin and Shawn Johnson who won gold and silver for the United States.
"I like to have this close competition between the front-runners," national team coordinator Martha Karolyi told The Associated Press.
Read the full story here.
AP Photo/Lionel CirroneauWhen she was just 16, Mary Lou Retton delivered a performance at the Olympics that inspired thousands of girls.ESPN is marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX by unveiling the top 40 female athletes of the past 40 years.
Mary Lou Retton was only 16 when she not only captivated the gymnastics world, but also transformed it.
At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, the Fairmont, W.Va., native scored two perfect 10s to win gold in the all-around competition. She left the Games with a total of five medals and the darling of the Olympics. She is No. 38 in ESPN's countdown of the top 40 female athletes of the past 40 years.
"After Mary Lou, we had to create a new type of gymnast who could impress with her sturdiness, energy and the physicality of her performance," Bela Karolyi says.
Her performance inspired future U.S. all-around medalists Shannon Miller, Carly Patterson and Shawn Johnson. Each of those women was at some point labeled The Next Mary Lou.
"It was an honor to be called that," says Johnson, the 2007 world champion and 2008 Olympic all-around silver medalist. "I mean, she's Mary Lou."
Read the complete story from espnW here.
Earlier in this series:
No. 40: Diver Fu Mingxia
No. 39: Jockey Julie Krone