Some of the most dramatic moments of the 2012 Olympic Games have come on the gymnastics mat, and the U.S. women’s team has been in the middle of a lot of it.
On Tuesday night, they rocked the Olympic world by capturing the team gold medal in dominating fashion over Russia with a decisive 183.596 to 178.530 victory. It was an unbelievable performance from start to finish.
The gold medal is the first for the U.S. team since Atlanta in 1996 and second overall.
Standing proud in their red uniforms that were equally shiny and sparkly, the team comprised of Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber all held their end of the bargain in one of the most complete performances of all time.
The team had the highest average score in the vault (48.132), balance beam (45.299) and floor exercise (45.366) while placing third in the uneven bars (44.799) behind China and Russia.
The win may have meant the most to Wieber, who was in tears after failing to qualify for the all-around individual final just two days earlier.
Wieber sounded like a huge weight had been lifted off her back (via Yahoo! Sports):
I knew I had to redeem myself a little bit from the disappointment of the other day, but in the end, this was my ultimate goal – to win with this team.
Wieber was spectacular in every event, and she showed us why she's the defending world champion. The highlight came on the floor where she was incredibly elegant and graceful with a squeaky-clean effort that erased the demons of Sunday night.
And she couldn’t even crack the top two in the individual all-around thanks to Raisman and Douglas. Raisman is arguably the best female gymnast in London after securing the best all-around score, and Douglas is a force in the vault, beam and uneven bars.
The team is supremely talented and well balanced with the heart, athleticism and nerves to perform their best under the brightest of lights.
So where does this team rank from a historical perspective?
U.S. coach John Geddert believes they are the greatest ever (via NBCOlympics.com): "Others might disagree. The '96 team might disagree. But this is the best team."
What makes the win so important was the fourth-place finish of China. With the Chinese and the Americans likely battling for medal supremacy, Tuesday night’s action could very well go a long way when the final tally is being counted.
While there are still individual events on the slate, the only thing missing from this memorable bunch is their own nickname. The ’96 team was dubbed “The Magnificent Seven.”
Maroney offers up her suggestion (via NBCOlympics.com): "I like Fierce Five, because we are definitely the fiercest team out there."