The 2016 Rio Olympics have come to a close with Americans earning 121 medals -- 46 gold, 37 silver and 38 bronze -- their biggest haul ever, not counting the boycotted 1984 Los Angeles Games or the 1904 St. Louis Games, when hardly anyone else showed up.
The U.S., which led by 4.026 points after the second rotation, expanded its lead to almost five points over second-place China.
It was sparked by Aly Raisman (15.000), Laurie Hernandez (15.233) and Simone Biles (15.300). Biles wobbled but managed to stay on the balance beam.
The Russians continued to struggle in a big way after their strong opening rotation, dropping to four after sub-par showing by their three gymnasts on the floor exercise.
After three rotations: 1) USA 138.898. 2) China 133.937 3) Japan 131.772.
After second rotation
Just call Madison Kocian, the closer.
It speaks to the depth of the U.S. that it can bring a world champion on the bars in for one event in the team competition. Kocian, who is headed to UCLA this fall, did the required job and then some, finishing off the rotation for the Americans, scoring 15.933.
This will be the only individual event for 2012 all-around gold medalist Gabby Douglas, who was on her game, scoring 15.766. Simone Biles started off the rotation with a decent 14.800.
Russia, which had been in second, slipped to third after some woes on the balance beam
After two rotations: 1. USA 93.365 2. China 89.339. 3. Russia 88.923
After first rotation
They couldn’t have asked for a much better start on the vault as the U.S. led after the first rotation.
The youngest member of the team, 16-year-old Laurie Hernandez went first and had a short hop on her landing, scoring 15.100.
Then came two dazzling vaults, both Anamars, from Aly Raisman and Simone Biles, as they scored 15.833 and 15.933, respectively.
The other massive score in the first rotation came from star Russian gymnast Aliya Mustafina, who had a 15.933, on the uneven bars.
After one rotation: 1. USA – 46.866. 2. Russia 46.166 3. Great Britain 44.866.
Before the event
Will the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team – Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian – give Martha Karolyi the ultimate retirement send-off gift: a gold medal in the team event?
Heavy favorite might be a serious understatement of U.S. prospects as the team final is about to begin Tuesday night at Rio Olympic Arena. The bigger question may be: What will be the margin between first and second?
The United States finished nearly 10 points ahead of second-place China in the preliminaries. Scores do not carry over to the final.
Raisman and Douglas were members of the team that won gold in London in 2012, beating silver medalist Russia by more than five points.
Karolyi, the women’s national team coordinator, took over the program in 2001 and the gymnastics legend announced that she would retire after this campaign. Her husband, coaching legend Bela Karolyi, retired in 1996.
“Every good thing comes to an end,” Karolyi told NBC’s "Today" show.
Biles talked about Karolyi’s importance to the sport and the pressure of trying to win gold in Karolyi’s last Olympics and joked about keeping the program at a high level.
“It’s insane whoever takes her place,” Biles said in an interview after the Olympic trials in San Jose. “That’ll be a very special person. They’ll have a lot to live up to and to keep the USA going. If Martha sees a drop in eight points … she’ll come out of retirement.
“She’ll be back.”
Biles was joking.
The first rotation, of four, for the United States will be on the vault. Following that is the uneven bars, the balance beam and the floor exercise.