Between their insane athleticism and adorable outfits, America fell in love with the Final Five gymnasts as they dominated in the women’s all-around team final on Tuesday, August 9, and took home the gold. The five girls — Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman — caught up with Us Weekly and other reporters after their historic win and opened up about how they got there.
Old Bridge, New Jersey, native Hernandez, 16, who brought her signature spunk to her vault, balance beam and floor routines, said that the teammates got one another’s energy up by doing their makeup together in the morning. “We got up, did the usual, went to breakfast and we just relaxed for a little bit and, as we’re doing our makeup, we blast our meet music, and it’s very upbeat. There’s a lot of good energy going around in the room,” she said. “We have, like, our own mirrors and we sit on the floor and we have our own little lights.”
While the ladies all had some pre-competition nerves, Kocian said the Olympic trials in San Jose, California, last month were actually more stressful. “Some of us actually said that Olympic trials was probably more pressure than this just because we’re on the team and we know that we can do it now. We were the five chosen to do this job, so we’re just really honored to represent USA,” the 19-year-old from Dallas, Texas, said of how she was feeling going into the day.
Team USA was leading the entire competition, and Biles’ final floor performance sealed the deal. While the girls didn’t want to get too excited before they were officially announced winners, they were the favorites by a landslide. They won by 8.209 points, making it the largest margin of victory under the current scoring system. Kocian said, “You don’t know until the last routine is done, but obviously we knew the energy coming from each event, just hitting routine after routine, that kept it going ’til the very end.”
As soon as it was official, they huddled up and started chanting their name: Final Five! Kocian credited Biles for suggesting the name, which commemorates the last-ever team of five gymnasts because the team size will be reduced to four in 2020, and also pays tribute to Team USA coordinator Martha Karolyi, who is retiring after the Rio Olympics. “We had a tweet that went out, just to look at some of the ideas, but Simone actually texted in our group text a while back. We’ve had it and kept it a secret for now,” Kocian said. “I think we all just like that name because we want to dedicate it to Martha, since she’s worked so hard with us.”
Douglas, 20, said the winning moment was “so special” and “so amazing” for all the women. She and Raisman, 22, became the first U.S. women to win back-to-back gold medals after their victory in London four years ago. “I kind of realized it after,” Douglas, who hails from Virginia Beach, Virginia, said. “I was like, ‘Aly, we made history! Again!’ Just to be on another Olympic team with her, it’s great. I can’t even find the words.”
Next up, Biles and Raisman will compete in the individual all-around final on Thursday, August 11. As a newcomer, Biles, who has already been dubbed one of the greatest gymnasts of all time and even has a move named after her, stunned viewers with her impressive performance in all four events — floor exercise, uneven bars, vault and balance beam. She’s been amazed by the overwhelming swell of love and support from fans. “It is the hardest sport in the world and we make it look so easy, is what people tell us,” the Spring, Texas, resident said. “But it’s our job and I think the pride that we show once we’re out on the floor really is genuine, so I think that’s why they fall in love with it.”
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