Top trampoline athletes to watch in Rio
The reigning Olympic champion in men's trampoline, China's Dong Dong, has gained fans because of both his high-flying skills and his unforgettable name. If he wants to win a second gold medal in Rio, he'll have to outperform the competition, many of whom are from his own country. At the 2014 World Championships, Dong finished second behind his close friend Tu Xiao. At the 2015 Worlds, Dong didn't even qualify for the final round. Not because he didn't perform well--he had the fourth best score in the semifinal--but because two Chinese men qualified ahead of him and the two-per-country rule meant Dong wasn't allowed to advance.
Dooley has long been nearly the best male trampoline athlete in the U.S., and he has two stints as the Olympic alternate to show for it. After coming so close but not competing at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, Dooley finally clinched an official spot in 2016. He’ll make his Olympic debut at age 28.
Ahsinger competed at the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China and told the AP, "I was never supposed to be in the running" to even compete at the 2016 Olympic Trials, but was giving it her best in hopes of gaining experience for the 2020 Olympics. But when Charlotte Drury, who had the highest U.S. finish at the 2015 World Championships, injured her foot just before Trials, Ahsinger stepped up and earned the U.S.’ sole Olympic berth for a female trampoline athlete.
MacLennan earned Canada’s only gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics, and was chosen as the Canadian delegation’s flag bearer for the Rio Opening Ceremony. She won the world championship title in 2013, followed by a silver at the 2014 Worlds, but finished just off the podium, in fourth place, in 2015.
The 34-year-old Khilko is a stalwart of the sport of trampoline. The athlete from Uzbekistan made her Olympic debut in 2000, the same year that trampoline was first introduced to the Olympic program. Rio will be her fifth Games, earning her the record for trampoline athlete with the most ever Olympic appearances. She's won one Olympic medal, a bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games.