She's done it -- Aly Raisman has just earned her first Olympic gold medal.
The U.S. women's gymnastics team earned its second team gold medal in history today, and its first since 1996.
When Raisman's signature floor routine scored an impressive 15.300 after solid performances by Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas on the floor, the gymnast from Needham, Mass., broke out in tears.
She knew her team had just earned the gold medal. The U.S. team had come into the final floor event leading Russia by 1.4 points. Two of the floor routines by the Russian team, however, had serious falls, causing members of the team to cry.
Raisman's tears, which came after solid floor performances by all three U.S. gymnasts, were of the same sort that followed the past Sunday's Olympic trials, in which she made the individual all-around final.
With Raisman's breathtaking floor finish, the U.S. finished with 183.596 points to earn gold. Russia earned 178.530 points for silver, and Romania earned 176.414 points for bronze.
"It was definitely special, taking in the feelings out the floor," she told reporters. "This is really what we came here for. The team was the most important thing. All the girls came together for this, and we achieved it."
The competition had no lack of drama, as China and Romania proved fierce competitors until the U.S. and Russian teams inched out the rest toward the final events. The vault and uneven bar routines featured solid performances from all four countries, with Russia's Victoria Komova scoring 15.833 on her top apparatus.
Raisman did not falter on the balance beam, but her score of 14.933 was not enough to put the U.S. in a safe lead. The Russians lost their chance for gold in the floor routines when gymnasts Anastasia Grishina and Ksenia Afanaseva missed their passes and fell to the ground.
After Douglas and Wieber stuck their landings and completed successful routines, all the U.S. team needed was Raisman to hold her ground to win the gold. A confident and liberated rendition of "Hava Nagila," it's her best event that rounded out the competition with a triumphant finish for Team USA.
Attendees began chanting "USA! USA! USA!" and the U.S. women's gymnastics team held up their index fingers as the final scores were announced -- the U.S. a stunning five points ahead of Russia.
Some are calling the team "The Fab Five," while others suggested "The Fierce Five," a nod to the 1996 team's "The Magnificent Seven."
Bela Karolyi, the coach who carried Kerri Strug onto the victory podium during 1996 Atlanta Games, said at the award ceremony that the team is "no doubt, in my mind, the best. No weakness, really. The mental preparation is so strong. Tonight, they got what they deserved."
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