The five women who will represent the United States in rhythmic gymnastics group competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games were determined Sunday night at the conclusion of the 2016 USA Gymnastics Championships in Providence, Rhode Island.
Named to their first Olympic team are Kiana Eide, Alisa Kano, Natalie McGiffert, Monica Rokhman and Kristen Shaldybin. Monica’s twin sister Jennifer Rokhman has been named the replacement athlete to the squad.
The six women have enjoyed unprecedented success as a group the past two seasons. Last year they gave the United States its first earned Olympic spot in rhythmic group competition with a 13th-place finish at the 2015 world championships in Stuttgart, Germany, which qualified Team USA as the highest-placed country outside of Asia and Europe.
This will be the first time in 20 years the U.S. sends a group to the Olympics. The U.S. sent a group to the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, obtaining a quota spot as the host nation.
The worlds performance was coupled with a strong showing at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games, where they won a gold in six clubs and two hoops for Team USA’s first rhythmic group gold at the Pan American Games, as well as silvers in the all-around and five ribbons finals.
Competing together at three world cup events, their most recent outing was their most successful, a fifth-place finish in May Minsk, Belarus, in May. They also won gold in team and silver in all-around and five clubs at the 2014 Pan American Championships in Toronto. McGiffert has the most experience with the senior group, competing in seven world cup events since 2013.
Only one of the team members, the 21-year-old Kano, had been born when the U.S. made its only prior appearance in rhythmic group competition in 1996. Shaldybin will celebrate her 19th birthday in Rio. The youngest member of the squad, Eide, is 17 years old.