ANAHEIM, Calif. - Blaine Wilson and Jason Gatson are rounding into good health. That's good news for American gymnastics, but bad news for a handful of talented men who thought they had a chance to take their spots at the Olympics.
Wilson and Gatson, two of the best male gymnasts in the country, showed every sign Thursday night that they'll be ready for Athens in seven weeks, nailing routines in the first round of Olympic trials and showing members of the men's selection committee what they wanted to see.
"I thought the boys looked great. I was really impressed," USA Gymnastics president Bob Colarossi said.
Wilson was solid in his first competition since tearing his biceps muscle in February. Gatson was equally impressive after a back injury kept him out of the national championships earlier this month.
Entering the week, there were questions as to exactly when the six-man Olympic team would be chosen: today after the finals or in July at a training camp in Colorado Springs.
Much of the answer hinged on how Wilson and Gatson performed. After the first night of trials, it appears the team can be picked this weekend, which would give the men an extra month to train knowing they'll be at the Olympics.
"I think that would make the athletes on the team a little bit more relaxed," said reigning world and national champion Paul Hamm, who all but sewed up his spot with a first-place showing Thursday.
Hamm, Wilson, Gatson, Brett McClure and Hamm's twin brother, Morgan, look like favorites to fill five of the spots. The sixth will go to a specialist.
After today's finals, scores will be combined with those from nationals, and the top two finishers will earn automatic spots on the team. The next four will be chosen by the committee, which will be looking to balance the team with specialists on each event.
At Olympic finals, three men go on each event and all three scores count. There is no margin for error, so those final four spots won't necessarily go to the top four finishers in the all-around at trials.