U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team Reclaims Glory With an Olympic Gold

It's the team's first gold medal since The Magnificent Seven's 1996 win

By Emily Feldman
|  Tuesday, Jul 31, 2012  |  Updated 4:19 PM EDT
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Olympic Fever: Fans and Faces

AP

Jordyn Wieber, Gabrielle Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Alexandra Raisman and Kyla Ross of the U.S. celebrate on the podium after winning the gold medal in the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team final on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

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The U.S. women's gymnastics team recaptured Olympic glory Tuesday after winning its first gold medal since the Magnificent Seven's reign at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

The five women in bright red, bedazzled leotards covered their mouths in disbelief as the results flashed on the scoreboard, revealing their massive lead over the top-notch Russians.

Team USA's Jordyn Wieber, Kyla Ross, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney earned a combined score of 183.596 over second-place Russia, which earned 178.530. Romania came in third with 176.414 points and reigning Olympic champions, China, came in a disappointing fourth.

"This is the best team all-time," U.S. coach John Geddert said, according to the Associated Press. "Others might disagree. The '96 team might disagree. But this is the best team. Difficulty-wise, consistency wise, this is USA's finest."

Celebration erupted on the web as well. "We. Won," tweeted Shawn Johnson, the 2007 all-around Olympic world champion. "One of the most iconic moments im sure to forever live in history."

London's North Greenwich Arena was packed for the event, which the United States kicked off on vault. Maroney, a 16-year-old powerhouse from California, delivered a sky-high vault that set the tone for the evening and earned the team 16.22 points. Wieber and Douglas also contributed solid vaults that each won scores of 15.99 and were wildly celebrated on the USA sidelines.

"Starting out on vault was really good for us," Wieber told the AP. "Just kind of kickstarting the competition like that was really good for us, and we just carried everything through to the next three events."

The Russians, who lagged by almost two points at the end of the first rotation, narrowed the United States' lead to four tenths of a point after a spectacular performance on bars, their strong suit.

But after a shaky performance on beam, the Russians slipped back giving the U.S. a comfortable lead. After three rotations the U.S. had 138.230 points, Russia 136.931, Romania 131.414 and China 130.164.

By the final floor rotation, Wieber — who shockingly failed to qualify for the women's all-around final — couldn't conceal a giant smile throughout her routine, which earned the team 15 points and helped the Americans increase their lead over Russia.

Raisman's coach Mihai Brestyan jumped up and down on the sidelines as his student, the last American to compete, finished her floor routine. Tears welled in his eyes as Raisman exited the floor and ran toward him for an embrace. There was no doubt they had won.

The event will be broadcast on NBC at 8 p.m. ET.

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