Biles Leads U.S. to Olympic Team Gold
(10 votes, average 4.90 out of 5)

In a women's team final filled with spectacular performances throughout the Rio Olympic Arena, the United States was near flawless again in defending its Olympic gold with a massive score of 184.897. Led by Simone Biles, the only American to work all four events today, the U.S. defeated Russia (176.688) by more than eight points. China claimed the bronze with 176.003.

To put things in perspective, 10 of the Americans' 12 scores were 15.000 or higher, and their lowest mark was Biles' 14.800 on uneven bars. Russia posted five scores over 15.000, and China recorded only three. And though the U.S. scored 185.238 in qualifications, it had four scores to choose from. The team finals have been 3-up-3-count since 2001.

Though Biles had a bobble here and there (after her second layout on beam, and she left out her sissone after her double layout-half on floor), Aly Raisman was a veritable sticking machine. She nailed her Amanar vault for 15.833, stuck her Patterson off beam (15.000) and stuck her double layout and double pike dismount on floor (15.366).

Gabby Douglas and Madison Kocian worked one event, uneven bars, but both hit strong sets with stuck dismounts (15.766, 15.933, respectively). Lauren Hernandez vaulted a Yurchenko-double twist (15.100), hit an amazing beam routine (15.233) and really got the crowd going during her floor routine (14.833). When it was all over, the U.S. had tallied the highest event scores across the board (vault, 46.866; bars, 46.499; beam, 45.533; floor, 45.999).

Russia was much more consistent today than in qualifications, and it used huge event totals on vault and bars to offset its weaker scores on beam and floor. Angelina Melnikova and Aliya Mustafina did the all-around, and Maria Paseka came through big time on vault with a 15.700. Mustafina's four-event total of 60.024 could earn an all-around medal in two days.

Russia really had some help from China in winning the team silver, however. After Shang Chunsong fell from uneven bars in rotation two, the Chinese rallied on beam to sit in second place, nearly 3.0 ahead of Russia, with one event to go. Wang Yan and Shang earned 14.733 and 14.700 on floor, but last-up Mao Yi mounted with a 3.5 twist to punch front that catapulted her out of bounds and onto her rear (12.633). So much for playing it safe to win the silver.

Japan was flirting with a medal near the end, but even inspired beam routines from Mai Murakami, Aiko Sugihara and Asuka Teramoto didn't help. Japan finished fourth with 174.371.

Great Britain was less than a tenth behind Japan in fifth (174.362). It was encouraging to see Ellie Downie work all four events after her awkward fall on floor in prelims. She fell off beam on a standing Arabian, however, and Claudia Fragapane bounced out of bounds on floor after an Arabian double pike. Still, there were plenty of positive performances from the Brits, and their program seems to be on an upswing.

Closing out the standings were Germany, the Netherlands and Brazil, respectively. And even though Brazil placed last in the team final, at least it qualified and gave the crowd reason to cheer. But, then again, so did the victorious Americans. The question now is, How long will the U.S. dynasty continue?

Check out the IG Facebook page for quick hits of all the gymnastics in Rio.

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