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Path to England Goes Through St. Louis for U.S. Gymnasts

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U.S. gymnast Jordyn Wieber poses for a portrait during the USOC Portrait Shoot at Smashbox West Hollywood on November 16, 2011 in West Hollywood, California. (Getty/Harry How)

U.S. gymnast Jordyn Wieber poses for a portrait during the USOC Portrait Shoot at Smashbox West Hollywood on November 16, 2011 in West Hollywood, California. (Getty/Harry How)

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (KMOX/AP)  - The U.S. women’s gymnastics team might want to bring earplugs to the London Olympics.

They’re going to need them.

The world champions got the same qualifying session as host Britain when the Olympic draw was done Friday, ensuring the Americans will be competing in front of a loud and boisterous crowd. Canada and France are also in the session, the third of five on July 29.

Russia, considered the Americans’ biggest challenge for gold after finishing second at last year’s worlds, is in the fourth session along with defending Olympic champion China.

The U.S. men drew the second of three qualifying sessions on July 28 but must start on pommel horse, their weakest event. Still, at least they won’t be waking up as early as the British men. Sending a full team to an Olympics for the first time since 1992, Britain got the first qualifying session along with defending world and Olympic champion China. With qualifying beginning at 11 a.m. in London, the British will need an early wake-up call to have time to get ready and warm up before the event.

Japan, runner-up to China at the Beijing Games, is in the same session as the U.S. men. Germany and Russia, also considered medal contenders in the men’s event, are in the last of the three qualifying sessions.

Results from qualifying determine which eight countries advance to the team finals, as well as the fields for the all-around and event finals. There are 24 gymnasts in the all-around, and eight in each event final.

What is the St. Louis link to this year’s U.S. Olympic gymnastics teams? The 2012 national championships will be held June 6-9 at Chaifetz Arena. The St. Louis Sports Commission is hosting the event, like it did in 2000. The national championships determine which gymnasts will advance to Olympic team trials June 28-July 1 in San Jose.

For more details, visit www.usagym.org .

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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