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At the selection camp, Carly Patterson, 16, an experienced competitor, was a clear favorite for her steady work on the beam, despite her third-place finish at the trials. Terin Humphrey, 17, also impressed Martha with her steely consistency. Traditionally, the U.S. has loaded the team with bars-and-beams girls to amass as many points as possible in its two weakest events. But this year the U.S. is exceptionally strong in those events. "So [at the camp], my mind shifted to using two gymnasts who are strong on vault and floor exercises," says Martha. And that led her to Mohini Bhardwaj, 25, and Annia Hatch, 26. They are surprising picks since both have similar skill sets. "To be honest, I didn't expect them to take both of us," says Bhardwaj. "But I'm so glad they [did], since they really do need strong vaulters."
In the end, Martha has her dream team--an inspiring mix of veterans like Bhardwaj, a college graduate, and newcomers like McCool. In fact, USA Gymnastics may have its best shot for gold since 1996. "This is the deepest team I remember having since 1984," says Martha. "We are proving to the world that gymnastics is not only for tiny, bouncy baby girls, but it's also possible to be done very well after ages 20 and up if you do the right preparation." And if you keep a Karolyi in command. --With reporting by Kristin Kloberdanz/Huntsville