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London Olympics: Gymnastics primer

THE SCHEDULE

The competition runs July 28-Aug. 7. The men's team competition is July 28 and 30, the women's July 29 and 31. The men's all-around competition is Aug. 1, the women's Aug. 2. The individual event finals for men and women are Aug. 5-7.

THE AGE THING

The 2008 gold-medal-winning Chinese women's team was at the center of a controversy when it was accused of having athletes too young by the age rules. Both female and male competitors must turn 16 by Dec. 31.

THE WOMEN

Many in the gymnastics world believe the U.S. women's team is the country's best since the gold-medal squad of 1996. One of the sport's most recognizable and successful coaches goes a step further. "I think this is the strongest team," says Bela Karolyi, who coached the 1996 team and whose list of champions also includes Nadia Comaneci and Mary Lou Retton. "On the '96 team, there were ups and downs. This is the most even team. The truth is going to come out at the Olympic Games. We are going to be at the top." Not making such a bold prediction is the U.S. national team coordinator, his wife, Marta. But she is excited about the team's makeup — its strength and depth — and its potential to challenge the Russians and Chinese for gold. "For a long time, this team has been in my mind," Marta Karolyi says of a squad that will be led by a pair of 16-year-olds, reigning world all-around champion Jordyn Wieber and Olympic trials all-around winner Gabby Douglas. "I've got a very good feel about this team. It's very young but also very aggressive. We're definitely going for a place on the podium."

THE U.S. WOMEN'S ROSTER

Gabby Douglas, Virginia Beach, Va.; McKayla Maroney, Long Beach, Calif.; Aly Raisman, Needham, Mass.; Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif.; Jordyn Wieber, DeWitt, Mich.

OTHER WOMEN TO WATCH

Oksana Chusovitina

The German is a stunning 37 years old. Yet she won silver on the vault at the world championships last year.

He Kexin

The Chinese star who was one of gymnasts involved in the 2008 age scandal beat American Nastia Liukin for uneven bars gold in Beijing by winning a tiebreaker.

Viktoria Komova

The Russian has been slowed by an ankle injury after finishing second to Wieber at the 2011 world championships.

Aliya Mustafinia

The 2010 all-around world champion from Russia has struggled to return to form since a knee injury.

THE U.S. MEN'S ROSTER

Jake Dalton, Reno, Nev.; Jonathan Horton, Houston; Danell Leyva, Homestead; Sam Mikulak, Newport Coast, Calif.; John Orozco, Bronx, N.Y.

Times staff, wires

THE SCORING

The International Gymnastics Federation decided to overhaul the scoring system after controversies at the 2004 Games. The "perfect 10" system — one panel of judges awarded a gymnast a score that could not be higher than 10 —has been replaced by one in which a score is determined by combining the marks awarded by two panels of judges. One panel starts from zero and adds points for required moves and difficulty. A second panel starts from 10 and deducts for execution and artistry. Those scores are added together for the score. Generally, scores above 15 are good; they're the rough equivalent of mid 9s in the old system. Scores above 16 are exceptional.

London Olympics: Gymnastics primer 07/23/12 [Last modified: Monday, July 23, 2012 8:38pm]

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