Following a historic second team gold medal finish at this years London 2012 Olympics, a lot of buzz has been circulating the internet as to whether or not members of the 'Fierce Five' will continue on training at the elite level in the hopes to make another Olympic berth. While it obviously is way to early to even prognosticate such a scenario, we can take a look back at gymnasts from previous Olympic teams in the modern area to 'get a feel' of their chances, if you will.
The Barcelona Team consisted of all first time Olympians who were all younger than 20 years of age. Bruce, the oldest member of the team attempted a comeback for the 1996 team but retired in 1994. Betty Okino was the only member of the team to immediately retire following Barcelona. Strug, Dawes, Zmeskal and Miller continued to train at the elite level. Zmeskal had several injuries during this quadrennium, leaving her unable to compete for the 96 team.
Dominique Dawes, Shannon Miller, Wendy Bruce, Kerri Strug, Elizabeth "Betty" Okino, Kim Zmeskal.
In 1996, 3 athletes named to the squad were Barcelona Olympians. Miller, Dawes, and Strug all continued to train after the games and picked up several world medals in between. New additions to the team were Borden who attempted a berth on the '92 team but placed out of contention, Moceanu, Phelps and Chow.
Kerri Strug, Amy Chow, Amanda Borden, Dominique Dawes, Jaycee Phelps, Dominique Moceanu,
In 2000, Dawes and Chow were named to the team, along with newcomers Dantzscher, Maloney, Schwikert and Ray. The only '96 Olympian who did not continue training in hopes to make the 2000 team was Amanda Borden.
Dominique Dawes, Jamie Dantzscher, Amy Chow, Elise Ray, Kristen Maloney, Tasha Schwikert.
2004 proved to be the year of the first timers, with no repeat Olympians joining the team. Mohini Bhardwaj competed at the 1996 Olympic trials but failed to earn a berth on the team. Tasha Schwikert was the only 2000 Olympian to attempt a repeat this quadrenium, earning an alternate position.
Courtney McCool, Annia Hatch*, Carly Patterson, Courtney Kupets, Mohini Bhardwaj, Terin Humphrey.
In 2008, the team again consisted of first time Olympians. Alicia Sacramone and Chellsie Memmel both tried to make the 2004 team but failed to qualify – Memmel earned an alternate position on the team.
Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, Chellsie Memmel, Samantha Peszek, Alicia Sacramone, Bridget Sloan
During the 2012 season, every previous Olympian made a bid at a London berth except Samantha Peszek. As you can see, although many try, a repeat Olympic berth is rare, but not impossible. It will be done again, the only question remains, who will be the select few to do so? Will any of the 2008 Olympians give it a go for Rio? Will any of the ''Fierce Five'' stick around for their second chance? Only time will tell. Remember, a LOT can happen in 4 years. Injuries, growth spurts and other circumstances will surely arise.
16 out of 26 athletes making an Olympic team in modern times have continued to train at the elite level following their Olympic berth. Returning Olympians are only counted once in tabulation.
4 out of 26 athletes have ever returned for a subsequent Olympic Games. Returning Olympians are only counted once in the tabulation. Returning Olympians are bold.
*Annia Hatch qualified for the 1996 Olympics but didn't attend.
Athletes who are underlined represent those who attempted to make a subsequent or previous Olympics but failed to qualify to the team, or those who secured an alternate spot.
Athletes who are indented represent those who've continued to train elite level past being named to an Olympic team but who did not attempt to make another berth on an Olympic team.