It was a suspense-packed women's artistic gymnastics Olympic team final on July 27. Team USA, consisting of Simone Biles, Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles, and Grace McCallum, was the sure favourite to win its third straight Olympic team title, but after Biles bailed out of her planned Amanar vault and withdrew from the rest of the competition due to what USA Gymnastics called a "medical issue," the pressure was on. The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) took gold with the American women finishing in silver and Great Britain rising in the ranks to claim bronze.
The ROC squad that includes Lilia Akhaimova, Vladislava Urazova, Viktoria Listunova, and Angelina Melnikova, also finished first in the qualifying round. However, scores refreshed for the final, and Team USA, looking to rewrite the rocky start they had during qualifications, ultimately was not able to do so. The second-place finish was unexpected — there's no sugarcoating it — but it was still, without a doubt, a major achievement. With Biles cheering on the sidelines, Lee, McCallum, and Chiles showed up strong amid adversity, and they battled in their bejeweled red, white, and blue leotards.
To put into perspective how much pressure these gymnasts were under, in the team final, three athletes perform on every event with all three scores counting toward the total; in qualifications, four gymnasts compete on each apparatus and teams drop the lowest score. Major mistakes, therefore, count no matter what.
Lee's massive 15.4 on bars was a highlight of Team USA's competition, and Chiles, who was not originally in the bars lineup, executed a solid 14.166. McCallum's composure throughout was unwavering — they all seemed focussed and ready to fight until the end. The team's beam performances managed to narrow the ROC's lead, though a fall from Chiles on floor all but guaranteed silver, not gold, would be the outcome.
This is the ROC's second artistic gymnastics gold medal of the Games, as the men's team secured the title on July 26. Ahead, check out snapshots of Team USA and Team ROC, and get ready for more gymnastics finals coming up this week.