Needing to surpass 10.234 points with her final floor routine, Aly Raisman could have fallen over, skidded out of bounds or both, and still scooped gold for United States’s newest gymnastics heroes — the Fierce Five.
As it was, she soared high in her tumbles, stuck her landings with a thud and flashed a smile as wide as the nearby Thames River as she finished with a flourish to cap a jaw-dropping night for the Americans.
Her teammates Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross did not have to wait for Raisman’s score to flash up to know they had beaten a self-destructing Russia to earn gold.
They squealed in delight and huddled together in celebration long before Raisman had stepped off the floor and when the 18-year-old’s score of 15.300 was announced, it showed they had beaten the opposition by a massive 5.066 points with a total of 183.596.
“There have been Fab Fives in the past, but I like Fierce Five because we are definitely the fiercest team out there,” Maroney told reporters after the class of 2012 followed in the golden footsteps of the Magnificent Seven who triumphed in Atlanta in 1996. “We were all babies and our first Olympics it was great to prove we could do this. I know there were a lot of doubts that we could do it and I am so happy we did.”
Their joy was in stark contrast to the bitter tears shed by Russia’s not-so-fierce-five, who had been snapping at the Americans’ heels all night, but imploded with the finishing line in sight.
It was little wonder that Douglas knew they were taking the gold back to the States as soon as Wieber, the penultimate competitor of the day, had finished off her electrifying floor routine to Wild Dances.
“After Jordyn went on the floor, I went “yes, we have this in the bag, we have it,” Douglas said with the gold medal hanging around her neck. “I was so confident I knew it right then and there.”