Raisman wins tune-up for gymnastic national championships
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Aly Raisman wanted to put together one solid meet for U.S. national team coordinator Martha Karolyi before the upcoming competitions that will determine whether she makes a second straight Olympic team.
The 22-year-old from Massachusetts, who took gold in London in the floor exercise, won the all-around title Saturday at the Secret U.S. Classic.
She scored 59.25 points to finish just under a point ahead of 18-year-old Rachel Gowey. Raisman and Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas are looking to become the first women to make back-to-back Olympic teams since Dominique Dawes competed in her third games in 2000.
Douglas and three-time all-around world champion Simone Biles competed in just two events, Saturday in what amounts to a tuneup tournament for the national championships later this month in St. Louis and the Olympic trials next month in San Jose, California.
Biles won the beam and finished fifth on the uneven bars. Douglas finished third on the uneven bars and tied for sixth on the balance beam.
Only 14 of the 23 gymnasts in Hartford competed in all four events.
Raisman got off to a slow start, falling during her routine on the uneven bars. But she recovered on the beam, scoring a 15.0, before posting a 15.5 to win her best event, the floor exercise. She then nailed her vault to the screams of the mostly pre-teen crowd, scoring a 15.7 to win that event as well.
''I'm not making the Olympic team for bars,'' she said. ''I made the improvements that Martha wanted on my other three events, so she was happy.''
Biles was impressive on the uneven bars sticking, the landing for a 15.1 on what is considered her worst event. She had one minor slip on the beam, but still bested the competition with a 15.65
Biles, who won the U.S. Classic title the past two years, said she took it easy this year to stick with has a plan to ramp up to top form for Rio de Janeiro.
''The peaking time is at the Olympics, so we have to start peaking now to get to like the top of the peak,'' Biles said. ''Right now, we're not at 100 percent, so we'll just wait. So at (nationals) we'll be at 100 and just keep it there from there on out and just work on little details.''
Douglas scored 14.55 on the beam and also had a dazzling bar routine, scoring 15.65.
''Mentally, I feel so much better than before 2012,'' she said. ''I'm so grateful. Because when you're feeling so much more confident, everything is so much easier.''
Ashton Locklear won the bars with a 15.85 and Madison Kocian, who was one of four co-champions at the world's on uneven bars, finished just behind her with a 15.7. It was Kocian's first appearance since breaking her left tibia in February.
She competed only on that event and balance beam on Saturday and fell off the beam, scoring a 13.65.
Karolyi said she was pleased by what she saw from most of the gymnasts, especially Raisman and how she responded to adversity.
''That's a very important quality,'' she said.
Maggie Nichols, a member of last year's world championship team, did not come to Hartford. She's recovering from recent from arthroscopic knee surgery several weeks ago.
Karolyi said she expects Nichols will compete at the national championships, but not in all events.