Russia gave them chase early, but mistakes on the beam and floor put them well behind the Americans. Romania kept their medal streak going, winning the bronze. They have won a team medal in every Olympics since 1976. China, which won gold in 2008, took fourth.
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The table was set by the U.S. early. Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber hit their high-scoring Amanar vaults. McKayla Maroney, the world champion in vault, hit her best Amanar of the season, danced off the stage, and earned a 16.233. They combined for a 48.132.
The Russian team, competing in the same rotation, couldn't keep up with the high scores, but made up for it in uneven bars. As the Russians hit every routine, Douglas, Wieber and Kyla Ross were solid but not perfect.
The U.S. pulled away from the field when it headed to balance beam in the third rotation. Ross scored a 15.133, and had tears in her eyes when she came off the podium. Douglas, who has fallen off the beam in the run-up to the games, was confident and steady as she earned a 15.233. Team captain Aly Raisman competed for the first point of the day and 14.933.
Following the U.S., the Russians were wobbly and scored a combined 44.399. To catch the U.S., they needed to be perfect on the floor exercise.
However, they were far from it. Aliya Mustafina scored a 14.8 after taking steps and wobbling. Anastasia Grishina made mistakes on every single pass and was given a 12.466. Kseniia Afanaseva faced planted on her tumbling pass.
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The Americans needed just 40 points to clinch the gold, and they did it as Douglas, Wieber and Raisman hit their routines. Raisman was the last one to perform, and she had tears in her eyes as she finished her final moves. As they waited for word to be official, the team stood together and held hands, and burst into cheers and tears when the score was read. They were champions.
It was truly a team victory. You can't point to one performance that won it. Instead, every woman on the team contributed to the gold.
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