Sunisa Lee competes at the 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships on Aug. 11, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri.
The question for the U.S. women’s gymnastics team is increasingly becoming which talented gymnast to leave off the team?
As the U.S. aims for its seventh consecutive world or Olympic team title, USA Gymnastics announced on Monday the six athletes who will be traveling to Stuttgart, Germany, for next month’s world championships. One will be later designated the alternate.
Of the six, all but one has previous world championships experience, while a previous world all-around winner was left off.
Leading the way for Team USA is Simone Biles, whose spot on the team was never in doubt. The four-time world all-around champ and four-time 2016 Olympic gold medalist clinched an automatic berth on the team Sunday, via her first-place finish in the world team selection camp competition in Sarasota, Fla. This year’s event will mark Biles’ fifth world championships, tying her with Kerri Strug for the most among U.S. women.
Picking the team to join Biles was the harder part.
Rising star Sunisa Lee made herself an easy choice. The 16-year-old from St. Paul, Minn., turned heads when she finished second to Biles at the U.S. championships in August, and she did so again this weekend. She’ll go into Stuttgart as a contender for the world title in uneven bars.
Fellow 16-year-old Kara Eaker is back for her second consecutive world championships after finishing sixth in the balance beam competition last year. She finished third in Sarasota, and tops on balance beam.
Jade Carey returns to the world championships after skipping last year’s event in order to maintain her eligibility for the new individual Olympic qualifying process. Now Carey, 19, has nearly wrapped that up, and she’ll go into Stuttgart as a medal contender on floor exercise and vault, the two events she won silver medals in in 2017.
Also back on the preliminary world team is MyKayla Skinner, 22, a 2016 Olympic alternate who delayed her senior season at the University of Utah to return to elite gymnastics in hopes of making the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. She had one of the biggest improvements in Sarasota, finishing fourth in the all-around, and would be competing in her second world championships after also making the team in 2014, where she won a bronze medal on vault and finished fourth on floor.
Grace McCallum, who turns 17 in October, rounds out the preliminary U.S. team. She returns for her second world championships team. She was sixth in the all-around Sunday, with top-four finishes on vault and balance beam.
Morgan Hurd, the 2017 world all-around champion who has won four individual medals at the world championships, was named a non-traveling alternate to the team after finishing fourth in the all-around at nationals and ninth on Sunday. First-year senior Leanne Wong is the other non-traveling alternate.
One name not on the list is 2018 world team member Riley McCusker. The 18-year-old withdrew from the selection camp due to mild rhabdomyolysis, a muscle ailment.
The world championships begin Oct. 4, with the U.S. women scheduled to compete in their qualifying round one day later.
Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic Movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009, including the gymnastics national championships and Olympic trials since 2011, on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.