An update on the American Women’s Gymnastics team and how they’re changing the game.
This article was originally published for The Odyssey on August 16, 2016.
Last Tuesday, the United States Women’s Gymnastics team wowed the crowds once again. After conquering the all-around competition, the team announced their new signature, “The Final Five.” Made up of two 2012 Olympians and three newcomers, the team definitely did not hesitate to tumble the fastest, fly the highest or land the most elegantly, winning gold for the second consecutive time and third time altogether. Though this is a huge achievement and they should be commended for it, it is not the only ripple this year’s team has created.
The team is made up of Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and the highly commended Simone Biles. Though they are teammates, the girls have made it quite clear that they have formed more of a family, making the team name all the more sentimental. The moniker was coined in honor of their coach, Martha Karolyi, who has coached teams for a total of eleven Olympics and will retire this year at 73. According to team captain, Aly Raisman, the team name is a tribute to Martha, because “without her none of this would have been possible.” As the girls huddled together to cheer their name debut on the count of three, Karolyi was seen in the crowd weeping with pride.
Not only is the intimidating title for the team a kiss blown to Martha, but it’s also a statement. Aly Raisman, a winner from the 2012 Olympics, mentions that the girls enter every competition with their heads held high because they’re aiming to be the best team in the world. In an interview with NBC, she also mentioned that their mind-blowing confidence has its perks. She explained, “You know, you walk in like you’re number one and I think that’s intimidating to everyone else.” She’s not wrong either, if fear isn’t instilled in the mind of their opponents yet, it will be soon.
As the team continues to blow away the audience and their adversaries, they have made it clear that they are not stopping anytime soon. After their two-hour show on Tuesday, the team completed the night with a score of 184.897, a total of eight points higher than their predecessor Russia. Last Thursday, Biles and Raisman shined bright during their floor routines, with Biles coming out with gold and Raisman scoring silver. The beam was also kind to both girls, who scored over fourteen points each. After three rotations on Thursday, Biles finished first with a score of 46.265 and Aly Raisman finished third with 44.665.The Final Five have now won more than five competitions and four all-around titles.
If opponents don’t fear all of the Final Five, they should worry about one particular fifth. As of Aug. 11, Simone Biles has been named The World’s Best Gymnast. Though she was considered of the highest rank before competing in the Olympics, thanks to her 12 winning titles since 2013, her four consecutive all-around titles from United States’ Championships and her accomplishment as being the first woman to be the all-around world champion, now three years in a row. Now standing straight at just four feet and nine inches, Simone Biles is dominating all four realms of women’s gymnastics at the 2016 Olympics and loving every single moment of it. Her big smiles and ever-reigning confidence have fans loving every single step she takes. In present day, Simone Biles has made history, at just 19 years old, she has taken her place next to the famous and historical role-models Mary Lou Retton, Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin and Gabby Douglas. Together, these powerful women are the American All-Around Winners.
Though these girls are giving it their all and winning accolades left and right, this year isn’t just about titles and medals. This year’s women’s gymnastics team will be the last team to have five girls on it. Next year, there will only be four, marking this year’s team as the true final five. 16-year-old Laurie Hernandez comments that her teammates are “…like my older sisters. It’s kind of like I won a gold medal with my family.” Well good news, this family is going to continue their reign. After completely destroying more than twelve routines, each girl attained greatness in their own area of expertise. On Tuesday alone, Madison Kocian and second-time-Olympian Gabby Douglas nailed the uneven bars, scoring two of the highest scores that day. Hernandez and Biles dazzled everyone with their original and precise floor routines and finally, Raisman scored near perfect with her stuck-landing on the vault. Both days, all the girls totally crushed their events and went out with a bang.
NBC and several other stations, journalists and even Olympic-Gold-Medalist Dominique Dawes, has remarked on how carefree these girls seem when they are out there on the floor. Maybe when we are watching the Olympics, we’re simply watching these girls have the time of their lives, because they’re making their dreams come true. CBS news commented and said that the Olympics are a place to “let loose” and have fun for these girls; they face way harsher competitions at the camps Karolyi runs to harness these high-flying skills.
So they’re honoring their coach and they’re making history as the last team of five, what else are these girls doing to make waves at the 2016 Olympics? The Undefeated, a platform primarily utilized to report on sports, has pointed out perhaps the most important thing about the 2016 women’s gymnastics team: their diversity. They comment, “Against a political backdrop of white angst, xenophobia and naked racism, the Final Five are a melting pot.” With two African American women, one Latina girl and two white women, this team is serving as a social wake-up call to bring attention to America’s diverse potential and talent, which some audiences prefer to be ignorant toward. The athletic platform also calls the five girls “head-turners,” reflecting on the fact that these girls are not making a political statement on purpose, but instead, genuinely enjoy one another and the life-changing events they’ve experienced together in the past few months. Though this team does not have to formally make a statement, they are a true portrait of diverse expertise in present-day America.
Together, Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, Madison Kocian, Gabby Douglas and Laurie Hernandez are changing the game. Ranging from ages 16 to 22, these girls are more than just winners in the Olympic games, they are heroes. In the face of adversity, perseverance and intimidation, these girls are shining just as bright as their mentors did before, most notably in The Fierce Five and the Magnificent Seven. Learn it, memorize it and remember the name because The Final Five will go down in history this Olympic season.