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Local Olympic Spotlight: Kristen Shaldybin of Brooklyn, NY to Compete in Rhythmic Gymnastics in Rio




Kristen Shaldybin is hoping to lead her team and earn the first Olympic medals in the history of the United States in rhythmic gymnastics.

Shaldybin 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.

Shaldybin debuted on the national team in international competition in 2015. 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 Alisa Kano, who is a fellow New Yorker.

While this is the best American team in the history of the sport, it’s still unlikely that Shaldybin 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 once again, 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. At only age 18, Shaldybin will probably be back as the United States continues to develop and get stronger.

Shaldybin began competing in gymnastics at age six, and switched from individual to team gymnastics in 2013. The switch has worked for her, as she has found a lot more success as a part of a group. She is also able to speak Russian. She also lives in Chicago now, training at the same facility that Alisa Kano is. She was born in Rhode Island, moved to Brooklyn before leaving for Illinois to further her career.



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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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