In the world of gymnastics, the days of perfect 10s are long gone. As the difficulty of the routines has continued to rise, it is rare to see a competition without a number of falls and major mistakes. In fact, that has become common place. But not so, it seems for the USA Women’s Gymnastics Team.
In 2011 the USA women came out and rocked podium training, qualifications and team finals. In all those performances, they didn’t have even one routine with major mistakes. It was the most dominant performance in women’s gymnastics recent history. The USA women were often referred to as a well oiled machine that went out and couldn’t miss. They won by over four points.
What is exceptional, is not only their consistency, but their consistency doing some of the most difficult routines in the world. In past years, Romania has earned an incredible reputation for consistency. But though they do incredible gymnastics, they often choose not to go for the highest difficulty. Teams like Russia and China have usually gone for broke, bringing some of the most difficult gymnastics in the world. They depend on the fact that though they might fall, their difficulty will carry the day. What was incredible about the USA is that they brought some of the highest difficulty AND did it with incredible consistency.
But that was Worlds and this is the Olympics. No matter what we try to pretend, the pressure of the Olympics is an entirely different story. And the USA competitors came in with a much stronger challenge. Russia is on the way to being back on their game and Romania is stronger than ever. Though the USA was still expected to win, the expectation was winning by tenths not points.
But try telling that to the women’s team. Though they are actually 15-18 year old girls, they do indeed seem to perform like machines in a team finals. They came out and hit every single difficult routine without exception. A few small wobbles were the only ground they gave throughout the entire competition. They did seem to be programmed robots. Just like last year, just like podium training and qualifications – perform, hit, repeat.
But in team finals, they added in one ingredient to their former performances. Celebration. The otherwise stoic American women burst into cheers, smiles and celebration after each hit routine. They were a snowball rolling toward the final prize. Gaining momentum and excitement as they went along. Breaking out into unrestrained celebration when seeing the final scoreboard. The won by five points. A total blowout in the world of gymnastics.
There really are not words to capture the emotions of the night and the incredible joy that the US women – and all their fans- felt. So instead, I will put the night in pictures. Congratulations Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney for one of the most difficult, consistent performances in women’s gymnastics in recent memory. You were amazing.