Fab 5: U.S. women claim gymnastics team gold

Published July 31, 2012

| Sports Network

The United States better get ready for another British invasion.

Only this time, instead of moppy-haired musicians captivating the nation with catchy melodies, it will come from a collection of giddy female gymnasts returning home with gold around their necks.

In a style that has become typical for this deep squad, the U.S. saw all five of its gymnasts contribute to a top score at Tuesday's women's team competition, giving the Americans their first gold medal in this event in 16 years.

Jordyn Wieber rebounded from Sunday's disappointing qualifying event, Gabby Douglas was solid on all four apparatuses and a supporting cast of Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross combined for a score of 183.596, five points clear of Russia, which took silver.

If you can call it a supporting cast. In the end, it was more like a dream team.

"I have so much faith in all these girls. We work so hard everyday in the gym and we're always so consistent, so I knew we would be able to come in here and do really well," said Raisman, the team's captain.

After failing to qualify for Thursday's all-around competition, Wieber got the United States off to a great start on the vault before Douglas and Maroney followed with outstanding scores of their own. Maroney continued to state her case as the world's best vaulter, notching a score of 16.233.

"No," said Maroney when asked if there was any better way the U.S. could have started. "That was just amazing how we started. It was like boom, boom, boom. We just kept getting better and better. I was just very happy I was able to stick my vault after those two. I was like, 'Thank God.'"

Things got a little closer following the second rotation, which saw the U.S. and Russia on the uneven bars. The silver medalists, behind another pair of all-around qualifiers in Aliya Mustafina and Victoria Komova, closed the deficit to within .399.

However, another solid routine on the balance beam -- an event that helped push it to the top of the standings on Sunday -- nudged the U.S. further ahead. Russia, perhaps starting to feel the pressure, saw two of its performers commit costly mistakes in the final rotation in the floor exercise. Anastasia Grishina failed to complete one of her tumbling passes and Kseniia Afanaseva, Russia's final gymnast in the event, fell to the mat at the conclusion of her routine.

By the time the United States took its turn on the floor moments after Russia, it needed to post a combined team score better than just 40.300 and had three of the top performers from Sunday's performance on deck: Douglas, Wieber and Raisman, the surprising all-around qualifier.

"Well, we tried to focus on ourselves, and we just tried to pep each other and doing our pep talks. I'm so proud of these girls. We knew we had it," noted Douglas.

Raisman, Douglas and Wieber finished 2-3-4 two days ago behind only Komova, but rules state that a country can send only two gymnasts to the all-around event. That pushed Wieber, the 2011 all-around world champion, out.

"I knew I had to hook together for the team. This is the most important competition. I'm proud of every single person on this team, we all did our job," said Wieber.

Sensing the match was locked up, the trio put up solid score after solid score to claim the United States' second women's team competition gold and first since 1996, when the "Magnificent Seven" -- led by the likes of Kerri Strug, Shannon Miller, Dominique Moceanu and Dominique Dawes -- captured the top prize and the hearts of the country during the Atlanta Games.

That competition, of course, featured Strug's infamous vault on a bad ankle that made her and the rest of that team stars.

There was no such drama this time around, just a five-point victory that introduced the next batch of heroes.

Russia, meanwhile, tearfully captured a silver medal thanks to a score of 178.530, while Romania was just more than two points behind to win bronze. China, the 2008 Beijing gold medalist, finished a disappointing fourth thanks to a low score on both the floor exercise and vault.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2012/07/31/fab-5-us-women-claim-gymnastics-team-gold/