Who will emerge as the next U.S. women’s gymnastics star from the five person roster (reduced from seven by the IOC) on a team favored to win its first gold since 1996?

 (Photo by Getty Images)

By Mike Tierney, Special to Universal Sports

By age four, Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber already had taken their career plunge. No, they were not in the wading pool as future swimmers, but were budding gymnasts. Douglas could cartwheel — with one hand. Wieber jokes (we think) that she took a one-year break then to take up dancing.

These grizzled veterans, barely eligible for their driver’s licenses, are being counted on to steer the favored U.S. women in London to their first all-around team gold since the Olympics in 1996 — the year of Douglas’ birth.

They are friendly competitors in the individual all-around. The spectacular Douglas, 16, whose soaring ways spawned the nickname “Flying Suqirrel,” beat Wieber by a mere .1 point at the U.S. Trials. Wieber, just-turned-17, has a deeper resume, owing to more consistency than Douglas.

Wieber could find encouragement that the last two gold medalists were Americans who did not win at the Trials. Douglas could find motivation tby becoming the first African-American to claim the individual all-around. As a certain band (the Who) from the host country once sang, “The kids are alright,” even if Douglas and Wieber are grown-ups by their sport’s standards.

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