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Local Olympic Spotlight: Alisa Kano Hoping to Become First American to Medal in Rhythmic Gymnastics

Alisa Kano, far right. (John Cheng / USA Gymnastics)

Alisa Kano, far right. (John Cheng / USA Gymnastics)


Alisa Kano is hoping to become the first American to medal in rhythmic gymnastics when her team heads to Rio this summer.

Kano was part of the first ever United States team to earn their qualification to the Olympic Games, after winning gold and two silvers at the Pan-American games in 2015. The U.S. sent a team to the 1996 games, but that was only because they were granted an automatic bid as the host nation. This was the first time in history that they earned their spot.

Kano debuted on the national team in international competition in 2014. At the world championships, the national team finished 11th, 13th and 15th in three different rhythmic events, but their coming out party was the Pan-Am games where they qualified for the Olympics. Also part of the team is Kristen Shaldybin, who is a fellow New Yorker.

While this is the best American team in the history of the sport, it’s still unlikely that Kano and her teammates will come home with the first ever medal for the United States in that event. They are talented, and now even the best team in possibly the Western Hemisphere, but European teams such as Russia, Belarus, and Italy are expected to dominate, leaving the United States off the podium yet again.

Simply qualifying for the event is a remarkable achievement in itself, and points to a strong trajectory the sport is taking in the future. After finishing eleventh in the last World Championships in their best event, the five ribbons, it’s unlikely the team will do much in the Olympics.

Kano was actually born in Tokyo, Japan, but moved to United States with her family. She only joined rhythmic gymnastics after a friend of hers invited her to watch a competition, and she promptly fell in love with the sport, starting at age nine. She moved straight to New York City, but after living there for thirteen years, she decided to move to Chicago in order to train in gymnastics. While in New York, she attended Gramercy Arts High School, which she graduated from in 2013. She currently attends Oakton Community College in Illinois, but is undeclared.



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Dan is a Staff Writer here at with a focus on Team USA and the Rio Olympics
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