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USA Gymnastics Takes Home Gold in Dominating Fashion

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 09: Lauren Hernandez of the United States competes on the balance beam during the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team Final  on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 09: Lauren Hernandez of the United States competes on the balance beam during the Artistic Gymnastics Women’s Team Final on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

 

Was there ever any doubt? In one of the biggest landslides in history, the United States women’s gymnastics team bowled over competition, winning by a wide margin, and winning the team gold medal for the second straight Olympics.

The United States led a coast-to-coast victory over second place Russia, with there never truly being a real threat to their lead. After the first apparatus, Russia was only .7 away, but that was after they participated in their strongest event, the uneven bars. After that, the United States’ depth and talent pounded away at nearly flawless routines all night until the lead was too big to overcome. In the end, America outdistanced Russia by 8.209 points, an absolutely unheard of margin in today’s world of gymnastics where there are only three competitors per apparatus.

Old Bridge native Laurie Hernandez competed in every apparatus besides uneven bars, and did very well on each one of them. The youngest member of the team, Hernandez led off the team event on vault, and nailed each of her two other routines after. Her floor routine was as lively as ever, even blowing kisses to the fans after completion. What has even more impressive about her performance on the beam which cemented the U.S. lead, or the floor exercise which iced the gold, is that she still has never competed in a world championship or other major international meet before.

At age 16, she has just turned elite, and hasn’t reached the bigger stages yet. She is practically making her debut in the Olympics, and she has barely shown any nerves. That is partly due to a strategy instilled back at her home gym by Coach Maggie Haney. Hernandez apparently used to be very nervous when performing, so Haney would make everyone stop what they were doing in the gym and watch her perform, so she would be used to spotlight. It’s obviously worked, as the sport’s brightest lights in Rio couldn’t faze her, securing her first ever Olympic medal. She will have the chance to add one more when she goes onto the balance beam final, which she qualified second for, behind only

Biles, who is the favorite in the individual all-around later on in the games, clinched the gold medal on the final floor exercise of the night. Going into the performance, she only needed about seven points to win the gold, which is considered leagues below amateurish, especially for the bona fide best female gymnast in the world. She easily crushed her routine, securing the United States second team gold medal, and their third overall. Biles will now try to become the fourth consecutive American woman to win all-around gold, following in the footsteps of Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin, and current teammate Gabby Douglas. She is also expected to contend for more medals in the vault, beam, and floor finals, with many thinking she can take home five gold medals from these games.

Douglas and Madison Kocian were superb on bars, easily the weakest event for the United States, making there almost no doubt that they would secure another gold medal. Aly Raisman, the elder statesman of the group at age 22, was dominant throughout the night, including an incredible balance beam routine, and a superb final floor routine. Raisman and Douglas became the first women in U.S. gymnastics history to win three Olympic gold medals. Each will have a chance to add to that number in their respective event finals, Raisman in the all-around and the floor exercise, and Douglas on the uneven bars. Kocian will join Douglas in the bars final.

After the competition was over with the gold secure, the team unveiled their name as the ‘Final Five’, a variation on the ‘Fierce Five’ of London. The name comes from the fact that national team coordinator Martha Karolyi is working through her last Olympics at the helm, and will step down after Rio, making these five girls her last five products. She has coached in the United States after defecting from Romania since the 1980s, and became the national team coordinator before the 2000 games in Sydney.

 

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Dan is a Staff Writer here at DoubleGSports.com with a focus on Team USA and the Rio Olympics
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