RIO DE JANEIRO — It wasn’t even close. The US women’s gymnastics team, calling itself the Final Five, proved unflappable Tuesday, and landed the gold in a landslide victory.
Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman soared into Olympic history with observers saying this year’s US squad is the best ever.
The US women’s gymnastics team has been on a medal streak since the 1992 Olympic games. This year’s team is drawing comparisons to the first gold medal squad, known as the Magnificent Seven from the 1996 games in Atlanta.
Three-time gold medalist Douglas thanked her predecessors on her Instagram account: “These girls showed us how to get it done in #Atlanta1996 and we hope to follow in their footsteps in #Rio2016. Thank you #Magnificent7 for inspiring us and being great examples‼️ You will always be our role models!”
This year’s gold medalists call themselves the Final Five, because they’re the last gymnasts to train under national team coordinator Martha Karolyi, who is retiring after Rio. In the next summer Olympic games in Tokyo, the gymnastics team competition will be whittled down to just four athletes.
“We called ourselves the ‘final five’ because there will only be four girls next time and because of Martha (coach Karolyi) finishing after this,” said Hernandez.
Before the Final Five tumbled into the record books, previous US squads captured medals and America’s attention. Here’s a look at how the teams fared, who their standout performers were and where they are now.
London 2012’s Fierce Five
The 2012 team with Mckayla Maroney, Kyla Ross, Alexandra Raisman, Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber called itself the Fierce Five and won the gold.
Douglas, the breakout star from the 2012 squad, is now celebrating her third gold medal in Rio. Nicknamed “the Flying Squirrel,” she went from virtually unknown to being on the box of Corn Flakes after winning the all-around individual gold medal. She became the fourth American woman to do so. She and Raisman are both in Rio celebrating their second team gold.
Maroney proved to be the meme of the Olympics that year after her not-impressed face went viral after placing second in the vaults.
She is no longer in competing in gymnastics. She has turned to acting, appearing in a CW TV show “Heart of Dixie.”According to her Twitter bio, Maroney is pursuing acting and music as a recording artist.
Beijing 2008 team
The 2008 squad landed the silver medal, finishing behind China.
The team consisted of Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, Chellsie Memmel, Samantha Peszek, Alicia Sacramone and Bridget Sloan.
Liukin ended up with the gold medal in the individual competition, becoming the third American to land the all-around Olympic title. Liukin graduated from NYU where she studied sports management. She has appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” and is providing commentary as the gymnastics analyst for NBC in Rio.
Her teammate, Shawn Johnson finished with a silver medal in the all-around individual Olympics competition in 2008. Johnson also went on “Dancing With the Stars” in which she took home the mirror ball trophy. At the age of 24, she has two books, works in broadcasting and co-founded a site about body image. Johnson can be seen running around Rio with her old teammate, Liukin.
Athens 2004 team
The 2004 women’s team finished with a silver medal finishing behind Romania.
The team consisted of Mohini Bhardwaj, Annia Hatch, Terin Humphrey, Courtney Kupets, Courtney McCool and Carly Patterson.
Patterson won the all-around gymnastics champion that year, becoming only the second American after Mary Lou Retton in 1984. She took home three medals from the competition in Athens. Patterson went on to pursue music, attended college and is now a speaker. She’s also in Rio as TeamUSA.org’s written correspondent.
Sydney 2000 squad
Team USA finished fourth at the Sydney games, but was bumped up to bronze 10 years later.
The International Olympic Committee stripped China of its team bronze medal after concluding that one of its gymnast was under age at the time of the competition.
Dominique Dawes, Kristen Maloney, Amy Chow, Jamie Dantzscher, Elise Ray and Tasha Schwikert all received bronze medals in 2010.
Dawes competed in three Olympic games, becoming the only American gymnast to do so. She won medals in 2000, 1996 and 1992 with Team USA. After retiring from gymnastics, she is a motivational speaker.
Atlanta 1996 — The Magnificent Seven
This is the legendary team that started it all, with a dramatic vault by Kerri Strug that NBC replays every time the Olympics come around.
Coached by Karolyi, gymnasts Amanda Borden, Amy Chow, Dominique Dawes, Shannon Miller, Dominique Moceanu, Jaycie Phelps and Kerri Strug landed the first team gold in gymnastics for Team USA.
Every subsequent US gymnastics team has been compared to the Magnificent Seven.
One of the biggest standouts from that team was Miller, who is the most decorated US gymnast ever with seven medals.
After retiring from the sport, Miller got a law degree at Boston College and launched her own company advocating health and fitness. In 2011, Miller was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Miller, who is now healthy, is frequently seen as a commentator on gymnastics and is in Rio.
She told CNN that she loves to watch Simone Biles: “I just love that she does gymnastics and keeps it fun. That’s what shines through in her performance.”
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