Rio de Janeiro–At just 4 feet 9 inches tall, Simone Biles might be the smallest American Olympian in Brazil, but she’s threatening to become Team USA’s biggest star of Rio 2016.
Biles, competing in her first Olympic Games, led the charge as the US women won gold in the team gymnastics competition Tuesday.
It marks the start of what could be a gold rush for the 19-year-old Biles, who is bidding to become the first gymnast to five gold medals at a single Games.
It also meant the US retained the title it won in London four years ago. It is unbeaten in team competitions during that period.
Russia finished second, while China took the bronze medal.
It was also a moment of history for Biles’ teammates Aly Raisman and Gabrielle Douglas, who became the first US women to win three Olympic gold medals.
“We had a lot of pressure coming in but I think we handled it pretty well,” said Raisman. “I’m at a loss for words (laughs).”
Lauren Hernandez and Madison Kocian joined Biles in taking home a gold from their first Olympics. Its the third time the US has taken the title, with the “Final Five” adding to triumphs in 1996 and 2012.
Hernandez revealed why the group had opted for the nickname “Final Five” as opposed to the “Fierce Five” of four years ago.
“We called ourselves the ‘final five’ because there will only be four girls next time and because of Martha (coach Karolyi) finishing after this,” said the 16-year-old.
Biles is the heavy favorite for victory in Thursday’s individual all-round competition, which Douglas won in London, with Raisman also set to compete.
And at the Rio Olympic Arena, Biles showed why she is held in such high esteem by producing the day’s best vault, beam and floor routines, the latter of which brought the curtain down on a majestic individual performance.
The Americans’ final score was 184.897 points giving them a huge winning margin over Russia on 176.688.