It's been sixteen years since the "Magnificent Seven" made history by becoming America's first women's team ever to stand atop the Olympic podium. But since that memorable evening in 1996 when Kerri Strug, Shannon Miller and the rest danced across our television screens to become American gymnastics legends, this country has failed to repeat this feat.
The 2012 Olympic Games have ushered in a new legend in American women's gymnastics. The newly dubbed "Fab Five" - Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Kyla Ross, and McKayla Maroney - have just become the second American team to win the Olympic team title. And they did it with ease.
This team has been considered the favorite to win this Olympic team gold medal since dominating the 2011 world championships in Tokyo over rivals Russia and China. When the U.S. team also won the Olympic qualifications here in London, it appeared these five young women were officially poised to write the next chapter in the American gymnastics history books. Many of us began preparing to write our versions too.
The USA began its quest for gold in fairy-tale fashion, nailing three of the best vaults this country has ever produced in competition in the very first rotation. When anchor and world vaulting champion McKayla Maroney soared higher than the rest and landed without moving, the crowd in the North Greenwich Arena exploded. Rival Russia landed their vaults on their feet, but were far less spectacular and already trailed the United States by a hefty margin. When the smooth and stylish Russians outswung the United States on bars and narrowed the gap to less than four tenths, though, it appeared the competition could come down to the wire between these two nations.
But not for long.
With nerves of steel, the USA's Kyla Ross led off the third rotation with an unshakeable performance on the tenuous balance beam, and teammates Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman followed suit. The pressure on the Russian squad became too great for their shoulders to bear, and 2010 world all-around champion Aliya Mustafina and 2011 world all-around silver medalist Viktoria Komova suffered costly breaks.
Things got worse for the Russians on floor, as second up Anastasia Grishina crumbled to the mat, and 2011 world floor champion Ksenia Afanasyeva crashed her final tumbling pass.
With the gold medal easily within grasp, the U.S. played the part by nailing each of its three floor routines - one by one - with the style and confidence of Olympic champions. Aly Raisman, the top American all-arounder in the qualifications, secured the gold medal with four world-class tumbling passes and her signature huge rebound at the end of the last one. When her massive 15.3 was flashed, it became official - the U.S. team had just dominated the 2012 Olympic Games.
As they stood atop the Olympic medal podium and waved to the roaring crowd, the next chapter in American gymnastics history was officially written, and the "Fab Five" became more than just an idea - they became a reality. We'll look forward to many more chapters from this American team, which has upcoming medal opportunities - and many more years - ahead of them. For these five young women, the story is just beginning.