US Olympic Women's Gymnastics Team 2012: Final Grades for Fab Five
After all the tears and cheers, a memorable journey has reached its conclusion for members of the U.S. Olympic women's gymnastics squad. Dubbed "The Fab Five," this group of athletes performed much better on the globe's biggest stage than its nickname predecessors (I'm looking at you, Chris Webber).
Picked by many prognosticators as America's best team to hit the mat since the "Magnificent Seven" struck gold at the 1996 Atlanta Games, this young bunch captured the nation's attention and found themselves on the cover of Sports Illustrated's Olympic preview. The team then matched expectations by reaching the top of the awards podium, topping Russia in team finals.
Though the squad was certainly a sum of all its parts, individual performances are worth analyzing. After all, the competition to earn a spot on the 2016 Olympic Games roster is essentially already underway.
If this sport has taught us anything over the years, it's that the shelf life of stars—even Olympic champions—is excruciatingly short. Just ask Nastia Liukin.
Here's a look at every member of the Fab Five, as we hand out all-encompassing grades to each golden girl.
2012 Olympic Grade: A-
Analysis: These Olympics seemed like a tale of two halves for Douglas, the 16-year-old who never once hid her emotions throughout a dramatic experience. The Virginia-born phenom began the 2012 Summer Games standing side by side with teammate Jordyn Wieber as the unofficial faces of the Fab Five.
What she achieved in London from a historical standpoint can't be understated. Douglas became the first African-American to earn all-around gold and was instrumental in the Americans' team victory.
Of course, when you win an all-around Olympic title, everything else is pretty much moot. Most won't remember her less-than-stellar performances in the final two individual events, but since it's our job to keep an eye on such things, we simply can't ignore the results.
2012 Olympic Grade: B
Analysis: Much like a situational relief pitcher in baseball, McKayla Maroney was selected to this team for a single purpose. The 2011 world champion on vault is considered above and beyond the competition in her signature event.
In the most meaningful moment of her career, she first confirmed those sentiments, then provided a shadow of doubt with her next performance. Maroney, 16, was phenomenal on vault during team finals and her execution helped separate the U.S. from fierce competition.
However, she failed to duplicate the magic during individual vault finals. Maroney settled for silver in an event many had already given to her.
After another amazing handspring, Maroney slipped on the landing and had to settle for silver. She fell just short of fulfilling lofty expectations and was noticeably emotional afterward. But she wasn't blaming anyone else.
"I didn't deserve to win gold if I landed on my butt," she told reporters afterward. "It's more of shock. I'm not disappointed about the silver. I'm disappointed about my performance."
Maroney has a tremendous chance of rejoining the squad for the 2016 Rio Games, so long as she maintains her specialty.
2012 Olympic Grade: A
Analysis: Raisman must be considered among the surprise stars of these Olympic Games after winning a team-high three medals. She could have earned four had it not been for a controversial tie-breaking procedure that cost her the bronze in last week's all-around final.
Remember the uproar about Jordyn Wieber not qualifying for the individual all-around final? That was because Raisman stole the spot that many had slotted for Wieber by posting the second-highest score during preliminary competition.
Raisman, 18, is the oldest member of this group and capped off her Olympic run with a pair of medals on the final day of competition. Ironically, Raisman won a tiebreaker to take the bronze medal on beam.
She then became the first American woman to ever win individual gold in the floor exercise.
"To have it be at the Olympic Games, in the finals, is just really amazing and just a dream come true," Raisman said, as quoted by USA Today. "That's what you work for your whole life."
Raisman didn't arrive in London with the level of fanfare that Douglas and Wieber received, yet she leaves as America's most decorated gymnast.
2012 Olympic Grade: B+
Analysis: The 15-year-old is the baby of the bunch and wasn't accompanied by the astounding expectations that some of her teammates faced. The Hawaiian native needed to take care of business on bars and beam in the team finals, and she posted solid scores as part of the team effort.
She missed out on the individual beam final because of the controversial two-per-country rule (Raisman and Douglas qualified ahead of her). Therefore, Ross wrapped up her Olympic experience well before the rest of the Fab Five.
The youngster did what she had to do in London. She didn't blow anyone away, but could be in the mix for another Olympic appearance in her career.
2012 Olympic Grade: C
Analysis: Sure, a C might sound harsh—trust me, I understand the ire you may be suddenly feeling toward this grading system—but let's look at the facts here, folks.
Wieber was presented as the shining star of Team USA before these Olympic Games. The 17-year-old earned the 2011 all-around world title and was considered a favorite to repeat.
It was a shame that an annoying Olympic rule prevented her from reaching the all-around final, but that's the fact. Weiber would've been in the mix if she had posted a stronger score than teammates Douglas or Raisman in preliminaries.
Weiber wrapped up her first Summer Games experience with a seventh-pace finish in the floor exercise final and did not win an individual medal.
For an under-the-radar gymnast like Kyla Ross, that's not a big deal. But when so much is expected and high-reaching goals go unmatched, a ho-hum grade is appropriate for Wieber.
If there was an injury involved during Wieber's Olympic efforts, as reports are beginning to suggest, then obviously her performance would have to be reassessed.
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