Just call them “The Final Five.”
That is the perfect winning brand name for the five members of the U.S. women's gymnastics team who won the Gold medal in the women's team finals on Tuesday.
Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian settled on the nickname after a team vote last week.
(Madison Kocian works the uneven bars as U.S. women win team gold in Rio)
Every dominant U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team has gotten a nickname. It started in Atlanta in the 1996 Olympics when "flip more raw than Dominique Dawes" had real meaning as she became the first African American to win an individual Olympic medal in women's gymnastics as a member of "The Magnificent Seven."
The branding continued in 2012 with the "Fierce Five" and in 2016 Rio, the rest of the world has fallen in love with The Final Five.
Why the Final Five?
Said team captain Raisman in an interview with Bob Costas on NBC: "Well, we decided to name ourselves ‘The Final Five’ because it’s Martha’s last year and we are her last team and obviously without her none of our success would be possible.”
For decades, Martha Karolyi and her husband Bela have been the King and Queen of gymnastics coaching and the driving force behind dominant teams in Romania, most recently the United States, and women's gymnastics in general. Since Marta assumed control of the US women’s team in 2001, the program has reinvented itself to become a powerhouse, overtaking the Romanians and Russians.
“Also the next Olympic team will be only a four-girl team," Raisman added. "So we are the last five-member team in (U.S. history as well)."
(Photo Credit: tulsaworld.com)
Starting in Tokyo in 2020, women’s gymnastics teams will be limited to four members. Competition to make the team will be even stiffer and more intense.
The U.S. women defended the team title it had won in London, becoming the first back-to-back Olympic gold medalists since Romania in 2000 and 2004. Their score of 184.897 points was more than eight points better than Russia (176.688), which edged China (176.003) for the bronze medal. The significant thrashing was the largest margin of victory since 1960.
The Final Five swept all the single events. They won the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor in dominating, awe-inspiring fashion.
Sporting two members of London’s gold-medal parading Fierce Five (Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas), the women were expected to be strong in Rio. But once Simone Biles became age-eligible to join the senior national team shortly after those London Games, it was game over for the rest of the world.
Biles is a three-time defending World Champion in the all-around, leading Team USA to World team titles in 2014 and 2015. She has a real chance to win a record five gold medals before the Rio Games are over.
“I can’t believe what we did tonight,” Biles told reporters after the competition. “I mean, I can believe it, because we’ve been putting in five weeks of hard work for this moment, and I know all of our hard work has paid off tonight. But we still don’t believe it. We need to go and sleep and wake up, before we see that it’s real.”
“At this moment, I can say the United States dominates the world of gymnastics,” Karolyi said after the medal ceremony with a smile.
London Olympic returnees Raisman and Douglas became the first women gymnasts from the U.S. to capture three gold medals at the Olympics, each owning team golds in London, as well as Douglas’s all-around and Raisman’s floor tiles.
“It took a lot of hard work to come back,” said Raisman. “I think a lot of people looked at me and Gabby like we were crazy. It’s cheesy, but don’t let anybody ever tell you can’t do something.”
Costas asked Douglas, the first African-American gymnast to win an all-around Olympic gold, if winning another gold and making history for the second time feels different.
"For the most part they've both been amazing and being back here on the high stage again is so unique," said Douglas."...and sharing it with these girls... It kind of feels the same this time."
Entering these Olympics, this US team was touted the most powerful compilation of tumblers, flippers and super athletes that has ever graced the Olympic stage. They also represent a group of culturally diverse gymnasts who together make them extremely appealing and relevant to a wide variety of ethnicities.
America’s had its Olympic disappointments, but in these Rio Olympics, opposing gymnasts don’t have the flamboyance, dominance, grace, power, diversity and chemistry of The Final Five.
As Costas mentioned, when looking at this group of world class gymnasts, any of them would be the No. 1 stunna on any other team in the world. He asked Laurie Hernandez how that dynamic plays among the young ladies.
Hernandez says it's that love and mutual respect for each other's drive, determination and work ethic, an admiration that jealousy could never conquer.
"Were all so talented and we all put so much hard work in at the gym each day," she said. "The fact that all five of us can come together as a team is why we are strong."