London, England – At this rate, Gabby Douglas may have trouble living up to her "Flying Squirrel" moniker with all the gold she has hanging around her neck.
Douglas became the third straight U.S. women's gymnast to win the Olympic individual all-around competition, holding off Russia's Victoria Komova by less than three-tenths of a point to earn her second gold medal of the London Games.
Russia's Aliya Mustafina and American Aly Raisman ended with the same score of 59.566, but the tie break went to Mustafina, earning her the bronze.
Two days after helping Team USA capture its first team gold medal since 1996, Douglas posted a score of 62.232 to become the fourth American female to win the all-around gold. The 16-year-old joins Mary Lou Retton, who won the first at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, as well as Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin, who claimed the top prize in 2004 and 2008, respectively.
"It just feels amazing to be called Olympic champion. So much effort, hard work, determination and passion in the gym. I'm just so happy," Douglas said.
The U.S. is only the second country to ever win three consecutive women's individual all-around titles at the Olympics, joining the former Soviet Union (1952-60).
It marks the second time in two years that Komova finished behind an American in the individual all-around at a major competition. She earned a silver at the 2011 World Championships, coming in behind Jordyn Wieber.
Just like Tuesday, Douglas and Raisman both started off on the United States' best event, the vault, and set the pace with outstanding scores. Douglas was in front with a 15.966 and Raisman was right behind at 15.900.
Komova and Mustafina were right behind at 3-4, but the duo both made up ground on the next rotation at the uneven bars. Mustafina had the best score of the competition on the apparatus and Komova was second to move each up a spot and knock Raisman to fourth.
It then became a two-horse race between Douglas and Komova after the third rotation due to Mustafina's fall on the balance beam and a few wobbles by Raisman.
Though Douglas nearly went out of bounds at one point on her floor exercise, her mark of 15.033 essentially sealed up her gold even though Komova had yet to go. The 17-year-old Russian managed a solid 15.100, but that still left her .259 behind Douglas and in tears for the second time this week.
"I just wanted to go on the floor and treat it like the trials. Just show it off and perform. You have to learn to enjoy and seize the moment," said Douglas.
Komova and Mustafina both won silver at Tuesday's team competition, one that saw Russia fumble away its chances at gold during the event's final rotation on 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.
"Yes," Komova replied when asked if she was disappointed with another silver. "I really wanted to achieve gold but unfortunately I didn't manage it. The mood is really that of disappointment."
Raisman, the 18-year-old captain of Team USA, finished behind only Komova in Sunday's qualifier and just ahead of Douglas. That pushed Wieber, who had the fourth-best score, out of the event because rules state that only two gymnasts from one country can compete in the all-around.
Raisman outscored Mustafina by five-tenths of a point on the floor exercise to pull into the tie. The bronze was decided by which gymnast had the three highest scores, with Mustafina holding a 0.567 edge.
"I'm trying to be positive about it. They said that they took out the lowest score and added the rest and she had the highest score. No one told me that, I found out from one of the media people," Raisman noted.
"Of course it's a huge bummer but I'm still fourth in the world so that's something to be proud of. It's also a bummer that they can't just let us both get a bronze medal but I'm happy for the girls that are on the podium."
Douglas, meanwhile, joins Shannon Miller from the '96 team as the only U.S. women to win two Olympic gold medals in the same year. She has a chance to add more gold before she leaves London after also qualifying for both the uneven bars and balance beam final.