Today, the name "Aly Raisman" is household. That's because she is not only a 2012 Olympic champion in the women's gymnastics team competition, but also the top American to qualify for the coveted all-around title.
Raisman is also the team's captain, voted into the position by her younger teammates. It's one thing to be team captain at 18 years old at the local gym or high school, but it's quite another to be in charge of the hopes and dreams of millions watching every move made in under two minutes.
This is an extraordinary young woman. Raisman's talent is matched by her ability to see clearly through a fog of media frenzy and expectations from coaches, USA Gymnastics, fans, friends and family. It is her ability to maintain resolute under extreme circumstances that sets her apart.
Every team must have a leader, and it is possible that Raisman's role helped not only her mates in getting their heads into the game but also her own level of confidence. Raisman found herself in second place in the all-around qualification round on July 29, displacing friend and Olympic Village roommate Jordyn Wieber.
Raisman continued to push forward today, clinching the gold medal for Team USA with her world-class floor routine. Performing last on the floor exercise, Raisman may not have known what score she needed, but the audience knew. Her only requirement was a clean performance.
The routine wasn't just clean—it was the best of the day, posting a 15.300.
Raisman and Gabby Douglas will compete for the all-around title Aug. 2, and they will face stiff competition from Viktoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina from Russia. The Russians took silver in the team event and will be out to prove themselves.
Whatever the outcome, Raisman has established herself as a world-class competitor and a worthy leader of the world's best women's gymnastics team.