The U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team entered the Rio Olympics Arena with confidence, smiling brightly and waving happily at the crowd.
But seconds later, their countenance changed as the team – clear favorites for the gold – began to mentally prepare for competition. As they warmed up, their smiles were replaced by steely determination.
The Americans scored 185.238 in the qualifying round – nearly 10 points ahead of second-place China.
After the four all-around qualifying events, Biles was ranked at No. 1, followed by Raisman at No. 2 and Douglas at No. 3. (It actually is bad news for Douglas. Because each country can send no more than two competitors to the all-around, 2012 winner Douglas will not defend her title. She will still compete in the team final, of course.)
Biles, in particular, stood out, putting up the highest scores of the day on floor, vault and balance beam. Kocian received the highest scores on uneven bars.
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As the team finished, their smiles returned. They waved at the screaming crowd. (Worth noting: while there were a lot of Americans in the crowd, people from all over the world were cheering on the team. They have big fans in Brazil.)
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When the cameras went off, the five women continued hugging each other and laughing. Hernandez blew kisses at the crowd, while Douglas smiled quietly. When asked by reporters how they felt, Biles answered back, “feels great!”
With the qualifying round finished, the team is focused toward winning the gold. The team final is on Tuesday, and the all-around is on Thursday.
To learn more about all Olympic hopefuls, visit teamusa.org. The Rio Olympics begin Friday on NBC.