The U.S. women did what was expected of them in the all-around final, hitting all 16 routines with ease, making no major mistakes and making it look fun. At the end of their subdivision, they had earned the highest team qualifying score, 185.238, by far. Second-place team China sat nearly 10 points behind the U.S. with a score of 175.279.
So it was up the all-around race to provide the drama: three of the U.S. women were eligible by dint of doing all four events in qualifications, but only two would be allowed to advance thanks to the two-per-country rule.
Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas finished 1-2-3 respectively after four of five qualifications subdivisions has performed. All three broke 60 points and were at least a point ahead of the fourth place finisher, but only Biles and Raisman will move on to the all-around final.
Douglas, the 2012 Olympic champion, will not get the opportunity to defend her title.
It must have felt like deja vu to Raisman. In 2012, she unexpectedly qualified first the all-around final with Douglas right behind her. That left the reigning world champion and all-around favorite, Jordyn Wieber, left out of the final she dreamed of winning for her entire life.
Then Raisman finished fourth in London after losing a tiebreaker for third place to Russia’s Aliya Mustafina. Missing out on an all-around medal by a procedure that many consider unfair, Raisman said, gave her the motivation to return to competition after she took about a year off from training.
Biles was also the top qualifier to three event finals, as many predicted: balance beam, vault and floor. With the team and all-around golds practically assured, Biles is on track to be the first female gymnast to ever win five gold medals in one Olympics.
Raisman will join her in the floor final, Laurie Hernandez in the balance beam final and Douglas and Madison Kocian will compete together in the uneven bars final.
Watch Jonathan Horton and Courtney Kupets Carter recap today’s competition in The Daily Dismount, a digital show hosted by Tanith Belbin.
The top five teams currently are the U.S., China, Russia, Great Britain and Japan. As there are only three teams left to compete, they are all assured places in the eight-team final.