GLASGOW (Reuters) - Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas showed that the United States will be the team to beat at the 2016 Rio Olympics as they blew away the opposition to land a third straight team title at the world championships on Tuesday.
While the Americans exchanged high fives after winning by a commanding margin of 5.174 points, fans at the Hydro Arena celebrated when a spectacular final vault by Ellie Downie ended Britain’s century-long search for a team medal at the worlds.
It was a bronze behind China but for Britain’s Ruby Harrold, sisters Ellie and Becky Downie, Amy Tinkler, Kelly Simm, and Claudia Fragapane the medals could not have glistened brighter.
Russia’s misfortune on the balance beam allowed China to snatch silver with a total of 176.164.
The Americans let the host nation lap up the accolades because they knew for them it was already mission accomplished.
So majestic was their performance that the U.S. led by 0.899 of a point at the end of the first rotation, 2.458 after the second and by the time they compiled a total of 135.530 points in the third, their lead was 4.599 points.
Only the most unexpected of meltdowns on the floor exercise would have denied them gold but, with twice world all-around champion Biles leading the way with her sassy moves and electrifying tumbles, that was never remotely on the agenda.
The final rotation turned into a lap of honor for the Americans as they completed their victory charge with a total of 181.338.
Biles, who on Thursday will aim to become the first woman to win three successive world all-around titles, did not put a toe wrong during the competition.
She earned 15.966 for her daring Amanar vault, 15.200 on the beam — a routine that included her spinning around 900 degrees on the four-inch block of wood as she balanced her entire body weight on her right toes — and 15.733 on the floor.
With Douglas, Margaret Nichols, Alexandra Raisman and Madison Kocian proving to be a dazzling support act to Biles’s jaw-dropping skills, the Americans had no problem living up to their billing as favorites.
Russia’s hopes of challenging the front-runners ended when they imploded on the balance beam — with all three gymnasts suffering crash landings either during or after their routines.
Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Mark Meadows and Ken Ferris