A majestic performance from the United States guided them to their third straight women’s team title on an enthralling night of action at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships here today.
The American contingent, made up of two-times individual all-around champion Simone Biles, double Olympic gold medallist Gabby Douglas, Madison Kocian, Maggie Nichols and Alex Raisman, produced a display that oozed class throughout, helping them to a dominant total of 181.338 points.
The US came into the competition as the red-hot favourites and, despite the tension within the arena, they remained cool and composed on their way to reigning supreme once again.
China, silver medallists at the 2014 event on home soil in Nanning, were 5.174 points adrift on 176.164, while hosts Britain secured their first-ever World Championships podium finish, claiming bronze.
The night, however, belonged to the utterly dominant American outfit, whose final total was nearly two points more than they mustered during their victory last year.
From very early on, it looked as it though it was a matter of how many points they would win by and they were the only team to go through the competition unscathed, with all of their gymnasts completing clean routines.
They were once again spearheaded by 18-year-old sensation Biles, the star of the show, just as she had been in qualifying, displaying elegance and grace throughout.
She posted her country’s top individual score of the evening, amassing 15.966 points on the vault, while teammates Douglas and Nichols also impressed on the apparatus to give them the perfect start.
The competition itself concluded in fitting fashion, with Biles having the luxury of having all 8,000 eyes in the Arena locked on her floor routine, which yielded a superb 15.733 from the judges.
While the American side, also the Olympic champions, surged out in front, an intense battle for the other two medals was developing, with Russia, China, Japan and Britain vying for the final positions on the podium.
The Chinese quintet, comprised of Fan Yilin, Yi Mao, Chunsong Shang, Jiaxin Tan and Yan Wang, emerged as serious silver medal contenders thanks to a typically-efficient display on the uneven bars, rewarded with 45.362 points.
China followed that with a confident balance beam section, so often the cause of falls and stumbles, though their floor routines left a lot to be desired, lacking the passion and fervor produced by the other teams.
It still proved enough to guide them to second place, leaving the destination of the bronze medal on a knife-edge between Russia, who amassed a collective total of four falls during the competition, and the hosts.
The Russians, third in 2014, were disappointing on the balance beam and the floor, leaving the door open for the host country to snatch the bronze medal.
Birthday girl Amy Tinkler, who turned 16 today, and four-times Commonwealth Games gold medallist Claudia Fragapane had given them the best possible chance of giving the crowd the medal they craved with scores of 15.083 and 14.833 respectively in the vault, their final apparatus of the night.
Ellie Downie, who had earlier come off the uneven bars, vaulted Britain to an historic bronze with a score of 15.133, overtaking Russia into third position.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher Inside the Games www.insidethegames.biz