advertisement

London Olympics: U.S. women win 1st Olympic gymnastics title since '96

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 | 12:37 p.m. CDT; updated 3:24 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 31, 2012
U.S. gymnasts huddle together after their performance during the Artistic Gymnastics women's team final at the 2012 Summer Olympics on Tuesday. The U.S. team won the gold medal.

LONDON — The Americans grabbed hands and backed up, eager to get a better view of the scoreboard.

There was really no need. That Olympic gold medal was in the bag the minute they took the floor.

The Americans lived up to their considerable hype and then some Tuesday night, routing Russia and everybody else on their way to their first Olympic title since 1996. Their score of 183.596 was a whopping five points ahead of Russia, and they were so far ahead their last event, floor exercise, was more like a coronation.

With the Russians on the sidelines crying, the Americans stood at the center of the floor, clapping, cheering and basking in a golden glow. When the score for captain Aly Raisman flashed, the Americans screamed, and a chant of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" rang out around the arena. The women held up their index fingers for the cameras — just in case anyone had a doubt.

The Americans had come into the last two Olympics as world champions, only to leave without a gold. But this team is the strongest, top to bottom, the U.S. has ever had, and the rest of the world never stood a chance. After the U.S. opened with a barrage of booming vaults, everyone else was playing for silver.

Some teenagers might find that pressure tough to bear, but the Americans reveled in it. When they saw the Russians and Romanians peeking in the doorway during training sessions, they would add some extra oomph to their routines, the better to intimidate the competition.

And when the gold was on the line, the Americans were simply spectacular.

They essentially won the gold medal with their first event, vault, putting on a fireworks show right in front of the Russians.

All of the Americans do Amanars, one of the toughest vaults in the world — a round-off onto the takeoff board, back handspring onto the table and 2.5 twisting somersaults before landing. It's got a start value — the measure of difficulty — of 6.5, which is 0.7 above the vault most other gymnasts do, and they ripped off one massive one after another.

World champion Jordyn Wieber went first and did perhaps the best one she's ever done, getting great height in the air with her legs locked together. When her feet slammed into the mat on landing, she threw up her arms and smiled broadly. Anyone who wondered how she would recover from the shock of failing to qualify for the all-around competition got their answer.

Gabby Douglas went next, and her vault was even better. And then came McKayla Maroney, who let everyone know why she's a heavy favorite to add the Olympic gold to her world title in vault. She got so much height on her Amanar, it's a wonder she didn't bump her head on the overhead camera. She hit the mat with tremendous force, yet didn't so much as wiggle, triumphantly thrusting her arms in the air as she saluted the judges.

The Americans strutted out of the event with a 1.7-point lead and never looked back.


Like what you see here? Become a member.


Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Comments

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.

advertisements