RIO DE JANEIRO – The United States women’s gymnastics team won its second consecutive team all-around gold medal by an incredible 8.209-point margin of victory. This the first time in history that the United States has won back-to-back Olympic team titles. Only the Soviet Union, which won every team title from 1952 to ’80, and Romania in 2000 and ‘04 have repeated as champion.
Russia took silver with a 176.688 point total and China settled for bronze with 176.003 points.
It was clear from the beginning that Team USA was gold or bust, and it lived up to expectations by posting the highest three scores in each discipline. Simone Biles led the charge for the Final Five—their nickname, picked because they are Martha Karolyi’s last team—which also includes 16-year-old Laurie Hernandez, 2015 uneven bars world champion Madison Kocian and 2012 Olympic gold medalists Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman. The team has selected as its nickname since there will only be four members in Tokyo for the 2020 Games. Biles recorded the top score in the vault, beam and floor exercise.
Douglas and Raisman are the first American women to repeat as team all-around champions.
Here are some quick thoughts off Tuesday afternoon’s action. Be sure to check out the live blog for a play-by-play of the final.
The greatest of all time?
The U.S. has hit one of its best streaks in recent years, having won the 2011, ’14 and ’15 world championships before Tuesday’s victory. The 2016 Olympic team has been head and shoulders above the competition, and that was most evident in the qualifying round on Sunday—even with an imperfect start, they still beat every other team by nearly 10 points.
While Raisman and Douglas are in the twilight of their careers, there’s still loads of talent to continue the U.S.’s winning habits, starting with Hernandez. Hernandez, who was born on June 9, 2000, is the youngest female American athlete competing in Rio and is the first U.S. athlete born after 2000 to win a gold medal at the Olympics.
America is pulling away—their margin of victory at the 2011 world championships was 4.082 points, and has only increased since. Good luck to those trying to dethrone America.
Golden moment for Martha Karolyi
Tuesday’s team gold medal is also one of the best farewells for U.S. women’s head coach Martha Karolyi as she heads into retirement after this Olympiad. She has overseen the program by herself since 2001, and she and her husband, Béla, have left their fingerprints all over the program; they get credit for the on some of the 80’s and 90’s success of the program including the Magnificent Seven in 1996. A golden exclamation point was added to her legacy and there’s still more hardware to come in the next few days.
China caught bad breaks
The United States could have fallen several times in the floor exercise and still won but China had a few mishaps that may have cost them the medals. The biggest of which was a fall by Yi Mao in her floor routine after she completed her first pass and fell out of bounds. She finished with a 12.633. The other big mistake came from Shang in the bars.
Where is Romania?
The United States and Russia won the same medals that they did in at the London Games, but where is 2012 bronze-medal team Romania? The country with the most gymnastics team medals in Olympic history only qualified one gymnast for Rio. This snaps their streak of winning a medal at every Olympics since 1976.
When will we see Team USA next?
Biles’s quest to leave Rio de Janeiro with five gold medals is still intact after the all-around team title. One down, four to go. Biles and Raisman will compete in the individual all-around final on Thursday. Gabby Douglas, the 2012 all-around champion, finished third overall in qualifying but due to the rule that only two athletes from each country can advance to the final, she will not be able to defend her gold medal but will compete in the uneven bars final. Kocian will compete in the uneven bars while Hernandez will compete in the beam final. Raisman will also compete in the floor exercise.
Full team results
1. United States 184.897
2. Russia 176.688
3. China 176.003
4. Japan 174.371
5. Great Britain 174.362
6. Germany 173.672
7. Netherlands 172.447
8. Brazil 172.087