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The team final that most expected would be a tight race between the USA, China, and Russia ended up being a landslide, with the USA easily regaining the world team title it last won in 2007.  The Americans were absolutely rock solid and delivered perhaps their best team performance ever under the pressure-filled, three-up-three-count format.

 

The Americans couldn’t have asked for a better start to the competition, with nearly stuck vaults from Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, and McKayla Maroney.  Maroney’s impeccable and super high Amanar broke the 16-mark, with an almost unheard of execution score of 9.533.  Bars, considered by many to be this team’s weakest event, didn’t appear that way in tonight’s final, as Sabrina Vega, Jordyn Wieber, and Gabrielle Douglas all delivered cleanly executed routines for the 2nd highest bars total of the evening.

 

Vega, who likely wouldn’t have competed beam in this final had Alicia Sacramone not been injured, came through again with a clutch performance as the leadoff gymnast.  Her impressive 14.833 set the table perfectly for Raisman and Wieber, who were also unshakeable and notched a 14.866 and 15.033, respectively.

 

The momentum continued to floor exercise, where the USA girls clinched their third ever world team title.  Maroney led off with confidence, tumbling an exquisite 3 ½ twist, 2 ½ to front full, 1 ½ through to double back (stuck perfectly right on the edge of the floor), and double pike for a 14.566.  Wieber was crisp and powerful – so much so that she did take a slight out of bounds deduction on her third pass – but overall looked the part of a world champion and earned a 14.766.  Last up Raisman, who finished first on floor in qualifications, did leave out her punch front after her opening combination to double Arabian, but was otherwise dead on.  Her 14.666 secured the gold medal for the Americans by a very comfortable 4.082 margin over Russia.

 

Defending world champions Russia couldn’t keep pace with the near flawless American squad, but did earn the silver medal with an overall strong performance.  Last year’s world team members Ksenia Afanasyeva, Tatiana Nabieva, and Anna Dementieva were all very solid, with Dementieva in particular looking much sharper than she did in qualifications.  The Russian trio of Dementieva, Nabieva, and Viktoria Komova also posted the top team bars total of the entire meet.   And newcomers Yulia Inshina and Yulia Belokobylskaya came through as the leadoff gymnasts on beam and floor, respectively.  But it was all-around favorite Komova who suffered breaks on the final two events, falling on her two-layout series on beam and stumbling backward on her opening combination to double Arabian in floor.  Though Russia still wouldn’t have matched up with the Americans without these two mistakes, Komova won’t be able to afford these errors in the all-around final if she hopes to hold off Jordyn Wieber, who posted the top all-around total of the night with a 60.398.

 

It was a somewhat disastrous day for China, but their high D-scores enabled them to still hold off Romania for the bronze by just over four tenths of a point.  Preliminary stars Yao Jinnan and Sui Lu were absolutely stellar again, but this team suffered falls on bars, beam, and floor, as well as a very low landing from Jiang Yuyuan on vault.  Huang Qiushuang, a last-minute replacement for Wu Liufang, perhaps put her Olympic chances in serious jeopardy by falling on bars for the second year in a row, missing her piked Yaeger in tonight’s final.  Tan Sixin had a disastrous day, falling on beam on her two-footed layout and crumbling during a tumbling pass after she overrotated a 1 ½ twist.

 

Had it not been for a dismal 40.032 on bars in the first rotation – by far the lowest team bars score of the final – 4th place Romania would have easily ended up on the podium.  They did post the top beam score of the entire team final with hit routines from Amelia Racea, Ana Porgras, and Catalina Ponor, as well as the 2nd best total on floor with solid low to mid-14’s from Diana Chelaru, Diana Bulimar, and Ponor.  If this team can improve significantly on bars and also put injured Sandra Izbasa back in the lineup, Romania could be right in the medal mix in London.

 

Great Britain, Germany, Japan, and Australia finished 5th-8th, respectively.  Highlights from these teams included Beth Tweddle’s 15.666 on bars and 14.533 on floor, Oksana Chusovitina’s 15.333 on vault, Koko Tsurumi’s 14.833 on beam, and Lauren Mitchell’s 14.9 on floor (leaps done out of three passes).