The “Fab Five” got off to a strong start Tuesday, and it led to a golden finish.
The U.S. women’s gymnastics team won its second gold medal ever, living up to its pre-tournament billing, which included a Sports Illustrated cover for the Olympic darlings.
Gabby Douglas led the U.S. to a 183.596 score, while Russia finished second with 178.503. Jordyn Wieber was a key part of the victory also, placing third in the vault and fourth on the floor.
“I’m so proud of these girls. We did awesome,” said Douglas, who competed on all four apparatus. “A lot of hard work and sacrifice in the gym, and it all pays off.”
Wieber, who didn’t qualify for the individual all-around competition because Olympic rules limit the entrants to two per team, said it was a team win.
“This couldn’t be possible without everyone stepping up today,” she said.” Everyone did their job and was completely amazing. I am so excited.”
The U.S. had the highest score in three of the four events, including the vault, which it did first. McKayla Maroney scored a meet-high 16.233 to lead the Americans.
Team USA had a two-point lead going into the final event — the floor exercise — over the Russians, but both Anastasia Grishina and Kseniia Afanaseva botched their routines,
Afterward, there were tears for both teams.
“Well, I think the first tears were of disappointment, but the second were tears of joy,” Afanaseva said.
Wieber, the world champion in the individual all around, said: “It was just tears of happiness. I really did just go out there and made the most of my Olympics and I’m happy I ended on this note.”
Members of the Chinese team were crying, too, after a fourth-place finish.
Except one member.
When asked why she wasn’t weeping, Lu Sui responded, “”Because the rest of the team is crying, and besides, if I cry, I will mess up my make-up.”
Members of the U.S. team said they were unaware of the purported curse that goes with being on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
“I was never aware of it. Kyla was told about it in an interview. I don’t believe in that,” said Aly Raisman. “We worked really hard to get here.”
At the pool, Americans were also collecting gold medals, including one that made Olympics history.
Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian ever, setting a record with his 19th medal after anchoring the U.S. men’s 4×200-meter freestyle team to gold.
The crowd at London’s Aquatic Centre rose to its feet as Phelps churned home, well ahead of France’s Yannick Agnel.
“I’ve been in a huddle with them (his teammates in the relay) because they made it possible,” Phelps said. “If I didn’t get a big enough lead then who knows what would have happened.”
With the gold, Phelps broke a brief tie with Larisa Latynina, a Soviet gymnast who won18 total medals from 1956 to 1964.
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Phelps now has 15 gold, two silver and two bronze medals spanning four Olympics.
An hour earlier, Phelps was a dejected silver medalist.
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Phelps led his signature race, the 200-meter butterfly. from the start until the last few meters, appearing to be ready to become the first man to win an individual event in three consecutive Olympics.
But just as Phelps glided into the finish, South African Chad le Clos, a 20-year-old whose idol was swimming in the lane right next to him, cranked one last big stroke to edge his hero Phelps at the wall.
It reminded swimming commentators of Phelps’ 100-meter butterfly win at the Beijing Games when he took a quick final stroke as Serbian Milorad Cavic stretched for the wall. This time it was Phelps who was caught reaching.
After the race, the shocked Phelps put his face in his hands. It was only later, on the medal stand when he broke into a big smile.
“It was my last one and I would have liked to have won,” he said.
American Allison Schmitt won the women’s 200-meter freestyle in Olympic record time.
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Chinese swimmer Shiwen Ye won her second gold medal, taking the women’s 200 individual medley in Olympic record time. The performances of the 16-year-old have resulted in some wondering out loud about possible doping.
“I just train well and perform well and keep on going,” she said. “I think that was a little bit unfair for me, but it didn’t affect me. Other swimmers have won multiple golds, how come they criticize me?”
History had already been made once at the Olympics on Tuesday when Queen Elizabeth’s equestrian granddaughter Zara Phillips put her name in the record books earlier in the day by becoming the first member of the British royal family to win an Olympic medal. She claimed a silver as part of the British eventing team. Her mother, Princess Anne, a 1976 Olympic equestrian, draped the medal around her neck.
Another British Olympian, Tom Daley, was in the news for a less happy reason as police arrested a 17-year-old accused of abusing the teen diver in comments on Twitter.
After his day on the tennis court, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France needed some sleep. He beat Milos Raonic in three sets, but the score of the final stanza was 25-23.
“For me it’s good because this is the only way, you know, to write my name in history for the moment,” he said. “With Rafa (Nadal), Roger (Federer) and Novak (Djokovic), even Andy (Roddick), you know, it’s tough to go through big tournaments. So … I’m really happy. I hope I will have some more.”