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Smith Leads American Cup; Comments On Biles And Raisman

Ragan Smith, who used to be an alternate by the American team in last year’s Olympic Games in Rio, has dominated the first elite gymnastics competition of the year, the AT&T American Cup which concluded on Saturday.

After watching her seniors like Biles and Raisman—who are in vacation at the moment—from one of the best seats in last year’s Games, Smith won the all-around with a total score of 56.099 in this year’s American Cup, too far ahead of the second-placer from Japan, Asuka Teramoto, who gathered a score of 54.231. On the third place was France’s Melanie De Jesus dos Santos with a 53.889.

For the each individual apparatus, Smith started flawlessly. She had a 14.433 on vault and a 14.4 on uneven bars. However, on beam, which is her signature routine, she stumbled and fell off so she got only a score of 13.266 on the said event. She didn’t let this affect her next event, though, as she regained once again her momentum on the floor with a really fun routine effectively highlighting her cheerful side, giving her a score of 14.000.

Ragan Smith Leads American Cup

“Even though I had a mistake on beam, I just brushed it off and showed myself what I can do on floor,” Smith said in an interview with Excelle Sports. “I just made a little error, things happen, I’m not always perfect, obviously. But besides that, I thought I did a good job.”

Smith believes that it was a huge step for her to compete at the first meet of 2017 after the Olympics, and it really was. Her recent win has allowed her to be added to the exclusive group of American women who have won the invitation-only meet, along with Biles, Gabby Douglas, 1991 world champion Kim Zmeskal Burdette, who is also Smith’s coach.

In the men’s artistic gymnastics, Yul Moldauer from Oklahoma won the all-around with a score of 85.931. Oleg Verniaiev, 2016 Olympic all-around silver medalist and the champion of 20156’s American Cup, was close on his heels with an 85.699. On third was Akash Modi, a Stanford senior and an alternate for 2016 men’s Olympic team.

Is Ragan Smith The Next Simone Biles?

Following this recent meet, people re now speculating whether Smith is going to be the next Simone Biles, as she is now in USA Gymnastics’ spotlight, but maybe this is too early of a call. This win was credited by Smith and her coach Zmeskal to the fact that she has seen her seniors compete last year and this fueled her motivation for what she hopes will turn into a run for the gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

“She wants it, that’s the best thing that came out of this last [Olympic] cycle, I felt like we were outside of this beautiful fish bowl and glued to the glass, we could see it, and there’s no way not to watch that and be like, ‘I can do that,” Zmeskal said.

Ragan Smith Artistic Gymnastics

2016 was Smith’s first year as a senior athlete, and she was immediately named as a replacement athlete to the 2016 US Olympic Team. She was the second-placer in the all-around at the 2016 Jesolo Trophy in Italy. At the 2016 Pacific Rim Championships, she took gold medals with the team on the balance beam. Lastly, she finished fifth in the all-around and second on the beam at the 2016 US Olympic Team Trials.

Most of these wins were previously overshadowed by her giant teammates, but Smith’s win at the recently concluded American Cup where there is no Biles, Raisman, Douglas or Hernandez, the spotlight is now on her. She doesn’t allow all the attentions divert her focus, though. She is currently just focusing on 2017 competitions, taking it one year at a time until she hopefully reaches the 2020 Olympics.

“It’s definitely different because I miss them being here with me and cheering me on, but now I feel like I’m one of them almost, just not as successful yet,” Smith said. “But now I feel like I should do that to other guys that are smaller than me or need some help with their first international assignment, but I feel like I’m one of those people now, like a Simone or Aly, so I need to step it up a bit still.”

“She has big goals for the rest of the year, we don’t really talk about those too much, just trying to stay exactly where we are, but we know what’s coming up,” Zmeskal said. “I know that’s certainly something she’s striving for, but at the end of the day, 2017 gymnastics is 2017, and we want that to be the best it can be for her.”

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