Olympic Gymnastics 2012: US Juggernaut Picks Up Steam with Team, Douglas Golds

Avi Wolfman-ArentCorrespondent IIAugust 2, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31:  Mc Kayla Maroney, Gabrielle Douglas and Jenny Zhang of the United States celebrate during the final rotation in the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team final on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at North Greenwich Arena on July 31, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

"It hasn't sunk in yet. Team finals hasn't sunk in yet. But it will."

—Gabby Douglas speaking to the Associated Press after winning the individual all-around gold medal

Over four days, the United States women's gymnastics program has dominated qualification, won the Olympic team competition by an astonishing five points and seen its best gymnast—at least its best this week—win an individual all-around gold.

Has it sunk in yet?

How could it?

Elephants in quicksand don't sink that fast.

In a sport where legacies rest on fractions of a point decided by twitches of a muscle compressed into tenths of a second, making sense of the present can be rather daunting.

So instead of trying to evaluate these last few days in a vacuum, let's take the long view.

What does this success mean? And where is it all going?

In the short term, it's going to the event finals, where Team USA is well positioned to medal in each apparatus.

On vault, McKayla Maroney is the sport's closest thing to a gold-medal lock. Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber are both medal contenders on floor exercise. Raisman and Douglas can say the same on beam.

And while Douglas faces strong challengers from Russia and China on uneven bars, you'd be a fool to doubt the "Flying Squirrel" on this particular week.

Yes, the choicest prizes have already been claimed, but the most talented team in American gymnastics history is just getting started. By week's end, the United States could have another six medals on its mantle.

Amazing to think that program with just one Olympic medal prior to 1984 could so thoroughly dominate a meet.

Amazing to think that the same program could produce three consecutive all-around gold medal winners.

Amazing to think that an American team could win gymnastics gold without a single sane prognosticator picking against it.

Regardless of what happens the rest of this competition, that right there is my takeaway: the expectations.

They were high, historically high.

Meeting them was a cathartic relief, but that they even existed was a small miracle onto itself.