The U.S. Women's Gymnastic team arrived at the 2012 Olympic Games determined to become the first Americans to win the team gold medal since the "Magnificent Seven" at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, and not only did the "Fab Five" achieve their goal but they did so in dramatic and convincing fashion.
As The New York Times reported, the American women won the team gold in runaway fashion, defeating the Russians by 5.066 points and the Romanians by 7.182 points to give the United States their first gold in the event in 16 years.
The entire American team, from top to bottom, put on a show that had to be witnessed to be believed, but a trio of performances were truly indicative of just how dominant the U.S. women were in London on Tuesday.
McKayla Maroney, Vault
Much was made of the toe injury suffered by American vault specialist McKayla Maroney in practice for the Games last week. However, when her time to shine came not only did Maroney put the pain in her foot aside, but the 16-year-old served notice to the rest of the world as to why she is considered far and away the best there is at the event.
After both Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas went before her and performed well, it was Maroney's turn, and not only did she upstage her teammates but, as The Associated Press via The Albany Times Union reports, Maroney put on an awe-inspiring display, scoring a ridiculous 16.233 after putting on what amounted to an Amanar clinic.
Then came Maroney, who may as well claim her Olympic vault gold now. 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.
Injured toe, indeed.
Gabby Douglas, Uneven Bars
After the Americans threw down the gauntlet on the vault, the event proceeded to the uneven bars, where the Russian team made up a considerable amount of ground on the Americans.
However, the American youngster nicknamed "The Flying Squirrel" then took to the air, and while she may not have had the best routine of her young life, Gabby Douglas came through with a gutsy performance when her team needed it most.
After overcoming some early miscues, Douglas got it together and showed why she's the top American woman on the bars, and while her score of 15.200 ranked only sixth individually according to nbcolympics.com, it was significantly higher than Kyla Ross or Jordyn Wieber and allowed the U.S. to maintain a lead of about four-tenths of a point over the Russians.
Aly Raisman, Floor Exercise
By the time the event reached the floor exercise it was more or less a two-team race between the United States and the Russians, but after a pair of miscues left the Russian team in tears and Wieber and Douglas both performed strong routines, the gold medal was all but won.
That wasn't good enough for American team captain Aly Raisman, who shocked the world a few days ago by qualifying ahead of Wieber (the reigning world champion) for the individual all-around.
As The Times report continued, Raisman went out and executed an outstanding routine as her teammates cheered her on and “Hava Nagila” played in the arena, scoring an event-best 15.300 and putting a red, white and blue exclamation point on the American gold medal.
After that it was all hugs and jubilation, and as the "Fab Five" celebrated their emphatic victory, U.S. coach John Geddert did a little boasting to the AP:
"Others might disagree. The '96 team might disagree. But this is the best team."
It just might be.