After a thrilling competition on the men's side, the senior women looked a little bit off on the final day of Visa Championships. While many gymnasts are not yet in Olympic shape, National Team Coordinator Martha Karolyi isn't worried about imperfect performances. In fact, she says it's all part of her plan.
"My suggestion was 80-90 percent at championships; 100 percent at trials," Karolyi said. "Some coaches were a little nervous and they wanted to get ready earlier, but that's the training plan that I recommended."
One gymnast who has taken Karolyi's advice is Jordyn Wieber, who won her second-straight Visa Championship on Sunday. Wieber added vault and floor for the championships, after skipping those events at the Secret Classic in May.
Karolyi said she was pleased that Wieber hit two bar routines in St. Louis and that her vault, the often troublesome Amanar, is very solid. Karolyi cited balance beam as an area where she can still improve.
"The beam, certainly, is one event where the consistency comes with more competitions and she's on her way to have that," Karolyi said. "She's not falling, but she's missing some connections and I'd like to see her getting all the start value that she can get in order to get all the edge on that event."
Runner-up Gabby Douglas recorded a fall from beam, but Karolyi was encouraged by Douglas's determination, coming back to hit all of her remaining routines. Karolyi believes Douglas is the type of athlete who responds well to discipline, and should do well in London if she is selected.
"When she is very regimented and put in a situation where she knows exactly her place and her role, she is more comfortable," she said. "That's what happened at World Championships because she had so much repetition."
Karolyi said repetition has paid off for third-place Aly Raisman, and said she is a model of what intense training and preparation can achieve. Raisman hit all eight routines, becoming the national champion on balance beam and floor exercise.
"I think that she is just so solid," Karolyi said. "She goes out there and she doesn't act like she's bothered by anything. She knows she is trained, she knows she is ready and she doesn't put extra pressure over herself. Again it proves that if you train hard, you compete easier."
The type of mental and physical preparation that Karolyi praised in Raisman, she would like to see more of in other gymnasts. Specifically, she mentioned that she loved the "international look" of first-year senior Sarah Finnegan, but that she needs to prove she can hit in any situation. On Sunday, Finnegan fell from the uneven bars and had to grab the beam to save a fall after her flight series.
Karolyi noted a lack of physical preparation from 2008 Olympic Champion Nastia Liukin, who struggled to put together a bar routine both days, ending her routine with just a flyaway dismount. Karolyi said she believes Liukin can turn the corner in terms of preparation in the weeks leading up to Olympic Trials.
"She struggled but she is still fighting and I think the two weeks can make a difference," she said. "I really appreciate her effort, being an Olympic champion and coming back to hard training, and really knowing that there are no guarantees that she will make this team and not giving up."
In terms of comebacks, Karolyi called fellow Olympian Alicia Sacramone's debut in St. Louis a success, returning from a torn Achilles tendon at last year's World Championships.
"It's a fantastic comeback after a strong injury," she said. "It looks like her leg's not bothering her and the good thing is, mentally, that she felt very confident. That's excellent."
While Karolyi is understanding of the need to pace athletes, she intends to up her standard at the Olympic Trials in late June, where she and the other members of the selection committee will name the five gymnasts chosen to represent the U.S. at the London Olympics.
The few weeks of training left will be the final opportunity for the London hopefuls to show Martha Karolyi that they are ready for the big stage, physically and mentally.
Updated on May 16, 2013, 3:51pm