Before leaving for the 2013 World Championships Team Selection camp at the Huntsville, Texas, ranch of legendary gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi, Brenna Dowell seemed full of confidence.
“I'm ready for the next challenge,” said Dowell, a senior at Odessa High School who trains with Al and Armine Fong at the Great American Gymnastic Express in Blue Springs. “I can't wait.”
Her optimism and confidence were rewarded late Sunday night as Dowell was named to the U.S. World team along with 2012 Olympians Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney and Simone Biles.
The 2013 World Championships is an event that features individual performances. There is no team competition and each gymnast will be coached by her personal coach. Dowell and the Fongs will leave for Antwerp, Belgium, the site the World Championships, on Friday. The event begins Sept. 30 and runs through Oct. 6.
“This is something Brenna earned and deserved,” Al Fong said by phone from Texas Monday evening. “They have all the girls in lockdown, basically, working with them, getting them ready for the next big chapter in their lives.
“To see Brenna on a team alongside two Olympians is very special for GAGE, the city of Blue Springs and our country.”
Before Dowell left for the training site, Armine Fong pointed out, “She knows what it is like to travel internationally where she is not just Brenna Dowell, she is Brenna Dowell – representing the United States.
“She has been going to Houston (the training site for the world team) and training, but she has also been experiencing all that goes along with representing your country – work ethic, attitude, sportsmanship, physical conditioning – all those aspects are very important.”
The women's team was determined by the selection committee. The criteria considered when selecting the team included results from the P&G USA Championships (where Dowell placed third on the uneven bars an in the all-around); consistency and results from past international and national competitions; D-scores for difficulty; E-scores for execution; consistency; medal potential; composition of individual strengths among the team members; and readiness to compete, according to USA Gymnastics.
“We had two days of competition and after the second day, she was in fourth,” Al Fong said. “But that didn't guarantee her a place on the team. They had the 10 top gymnasts from the United States down there and only four made the team – with one alternate who will not travel unless there is an injury.
“The judges chose floor and bars for Brenna and she was just outstanding. They look for girls who have certain skills and talent that will make this the best possible team, and Brenna showed them that she is ready for international competition on the world's biggest stage.”
When the team was announced, Fong said Dowell's name was the last one called.
“You breathe a deep sigh of relief when you hear her name, because you know how hard she worked for this,” Fong said. “She earned her spot on the team, and I know she will have an outstanding competition at the world championship.”
Qualification for the women is Oct. 1 and 2, and the women’s all-around final is set for Oct. 4. The women’s vault and uneven bars finals are Oct. 5, and the women’s balance beam and floor exercise finals are Oct. 6. The men are also competing, starting Sept. 30.
Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC