Gymnastics: US women take team gold
Updated: Tuesday, 31 Jul 2012 20:08
Jordyn Wieber sparkled and Gabby Douglas dazzled as the United States stormed to the Olympic women's gymnastics team gold.
Two days after an inconsolable Wieber fled the North Greenwich Arena in tears having missed out on a spot in the all-around final, her smile was back as she and her team mates gave the U.S. their first Olympic team title since 1996.
So strong were they on all four apparatus, that they won the title by a huge margin of 5.066 with a total of 183.596 points.
Russia's quintet had been snapping at the Americans' heels throughout the competition but were left sobbing after they imploded on their final apparatus, the floor.
Ksenia Afanaseva completed her floor routine on her head and knees, summing up their miserable finish as they ended with 178.530.
Romania, champions in 2004, rallied from a poor start to claim bronze but 2008 gold medallists China were empty-handed in fourth after a succession of errors.
Wieber had come to London as the favourite to win the Olympic all-around gold to go with the world title she took last October.
Though she finished fourth in all-around qualifying, she was behind compatriots Aly Raisman and Douglas and the rules dictate that no country can have more than two gymnasts in Thursday's individual final.
The 17-year-old Wieber came back fighting on Tuesday, opening the day's proceedings with a confident vault. The apparatus, which traditionally produces high scores, gave the Americans a head start on their rivals.
Vault specialist and world champion McKayla Maroney danced off the podium with delight into the waiting arms of her coach, knowing she had landed a superb jump and the team went into the second rotation 1.733 points ahead of China and never relinquished the lead.
Russia overtook the Chinese and closed the gap at the top to 0.399 halfway through the four rotations but dropped back after Victoria Komova, the top all-around qualifier here, came off the landing mat on the beam and Aliya Mustafina nearly fell off the apparatus.
The floor wiped out all Russian hope of gold when a stumbling Anastasia Grishina picked up a low score of 12.466 and Afanaseva missed her final landing.
By the time Raisman took to the floor, where she won bronze at the last world championships, as the final performer of the evening, all the Russian gymnasts were in tears as they watched.
A confident routine delivered, Raisman joined her team mates and the five stood holding hands and gazing up at the giant results screen.
A score of 15.300 flashed up to confirm the magnitude of their win and American fans in the arena erupted into cheers.