The Fierce Five celebrating gold at the 2012 Olympics.

In the build-up to the 2012 Olympic Games, the American Olympic Gymnastics team was described by Sports Illustrated as “America’s Game Changers”. Considering the five girls were all still teenagers (between 15 and 18) this was a lot of pressure to place on their small shoulders. But instead of buckling under the pressure, the Fierce Five, as they were ultimately dubbed, all thrived – the team ended up winning the team gold as well as a number of individual medals for the girls.


Gabby Douglas: Gabby began her gymnastics career at the age of 8 and she was so dedicated to the sport that at the age of 14 she left her family and life in Virginia and moved to Iowa to train. Following a number of successful competitions in 2011 and 2012 she secured her place in the U.S. national team by coming first at the Olympic trials. She went on to become the first African-American woman to win gold in the individual all-around event. Gabby will aim to defend her title in Rio in a few week’s time.

McKayla Maroney: McKayla began taking gymnastics classes when she was 2 years old and began participating competitively at the age of 9. Her build up to the Olympics was not ideal with her breaking her big toe. Despite this she managed to win a silver medal in the vault competition. Following the Olympics she suffered a number of other injuries and earlier this year announced she would not be participating in competitive gymnastics anymore.

Kyla Ross: Kyla took gymnastics lessons for the first time aged 3 and has gone on to have immense success – and she is still a teenager! At the London Olympics she helped the team secure gold in the team final. In the World Championship in 2013 and 2014 she won a total of six medals. Earlier this year she announced that she was retiring from gymnastics so she could focus on her academic career at UCLA.

Jordyn Wieber: Jordyn started training for gymnastics when she was 3 years old. She made a name for herself at the World Artistic Championships where she helped the U.S. national team win gold, at the World Championships that year she bronze in the balance beam final. At the London Olympics she helped the team win gold despite having a stress fracture in her right leg. She enrolled in UCLA in 2013 and announced that she would not be returning to professional gymnastics.

Aly Raisman: Aly was the captain of the Olympics team and like her team-mates she started participating in gymnastics at a young age (2). Her junior career began in 2009 when she was 15. She would go on to achieve great success in her senior career and in 2012 she won bronze in the balance beam final and gold in the floor final (she was the first American woman to achieve this). She will attempt to duplicate her success at this year’s Olympics.

These five women showed the world that with hard work, determination and dedication you can achieve your dreams. And they did this while still teenagers!

-Michelle O’Brien
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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