2012 US Olympic Women's Gymnastics Team Dominant in Gold Medal Victory
For a while it seemed like the U.S. Olympic women's gymnastics team was in for a dogfight in the all-around event. The Americans held a shrinking lead over the second-place Russians heading into third rotations, one big mistake away from losing their grip on the top spot.
Then Russia hit the balance beam.
The Russians tumbled, stumbled and ultimately crumbled, but the powerhouse would have been powerless to beat the United States even without the errors. The American team flatly dominated the team event by posting the top score in three of the four events, emphatically declaring that the 2011 world championship win was no fluke.
Team USA simply crushed the competition en route to its first team gold since 1996.
It is difficult to tell just how dominant this U.S. team was in these Olympics. After all, the controversial new scoring system has been around for only six years, replacing an 80-year-old system where the perfect 10 existed.
In 2008, the Chinese bested a U.S. team led by all-around gold medalist Nastia Liukin and powerhouse Shawn Johnson by less than 2.4 points. This year, the American girls pulled away from the Russians, winning by an eye-popping five-plus points.
Both 2008 teams had higher scores than the 2012 iteration of Team USA, but things have changed since then. Teams are limited to five instead of six, and differences in judging are difficult to quantify.
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McKayla Maroney set the tone for the team final with a historic vault that was darn close to perfect, hitting an Amanar vault for the highest execution score in modern history at 9.733 and an overall score of 16.233. It was the best score for Team USA in its best event.
The Americans took almost a two-point lead after their first rotation and never looked back.
It might have been closer if the perceived weakness in the uneven bars had carried over into the Olympics. It was their worst event at the 2011 championships, and that was the concern heading into U.S. nationals and trials.
Well, it was their worst event; they only put up the third-highest team score.
Gabby Douglas soared and Kyla Ross fluttered, and Jordyn Wieber showed no ill effects from missing the individual all-around finals, giving the U.S. team the shot in the arm it needed in this event, holding the Russians at bay in the process. Russia still managed to inch closer to the U.S. by virtue of the top score in the event.
The treacherous beam then loomed, and the Russians wilted under its four-inch glare. Tears flowed after two disastrous performances from their best gymnasts, but the American team remained focused. Ross, Douglas and Aly Raisman nailed their routines, giving the Americans more breathing room heading into the floor exercise.
In the end, Russia's missteps and falls in the floor routines were meaningless, serving only to increase the margin of defeat. Douglas, Wieber and Raisman were magnificent, putting a nail in Russia's coffin with each successful tumbling pass.
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Gymnastics has evolved since the Magnificent Seven stormed the Atlanta Games. The scoring has changed, equipment has improved and teams have shrunk. To put this year's victory into perspective, the '96 team scored over 389 points and won by less than 0.8. Scoring differences or not, the 2012 U.S. win was a blowout of epic proportions.
Could the Fab Five have beaten Shannon Miller, Dominique Dawes and Co.? Quite possibly. There was no Kerri Strug moment because no such moment was needed.
There was only dominance.
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