The Fierce Five is the artistic gymnastics team that won the second ever gold medal for the United States, and the first gold medal on international soil, in the women's team competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The five members of the team were Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross, and Jordyn Wieber. Later in the Olympic Games, Douglas won a gold medal in the individual all-around event, becoming the first African-American to do so; Maroney won silver on vault; Raisman, the team captain, won bronze on balance beam and gold on floor exercise.
Olympic Trials and team background
At the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, Douglas, Wieber, and Raisman finished first, second, and third respectively in the all-around competition. Maroney won the vault competition, Douglas and Ross tied for first on the uneven bars, while Raisman won the balance beam and floor exercise. Afterwards, Douglas, Maroney, Raisman, Ross, and Wieber were the five gymnasts chosen to represent the United States at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Douglas, nicknamed "the Flying Squirrel" for her skill on the uneven bars, finished first at the trials and was thus the automatic qualifier for the team.
The team members were all between the ages of 15 and 18. They were close to each other: Raisman and Wieber had been best friends, and Maroney and Ross had been best friends since they were young. All except Ross were on the U.S. team that won the team competition at the 2011 World Championships. Raisman, the oldest on the team at 18 years old, was elected team captain by the other members. The team's replacement athletes were Sarah Finnegan, Anna Li, and Elizabeth Price, but they were not used at the games.
The team was originally dubbed the "Fab Five" before the Olympics. The members would later (before the Olympics) tell the media that they preferred to be called the "Fierce Five". They were all featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated's Olympic Preview issue; it was the first time since 1996 that a gymnast had appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Maroney and Wieber were credited for changing the team's nickname from the "Fab Five" to the "Fierce Five" a few days before their gold medal win at the Olympics. "I guess (Fab Five) was taken by some basketball team or something," Maroney said, referring to the five members of the Michigan college basketball team recruited in 1991. Jalen Rose, a former Michigan Fab Five member, complained about the gymnastics team being dubbed the Fab Five as well. "To use the nickname just points and screams of lazy journalism by the national media, that's really what it is," Rose said. "It's no fault at all of the young gymnasts. But I really wish they would have come up with an even more creative tag for them and their gold medal pursuit." Maroney and Wieber decided for that reason to "come up with an even more creative" name while on the bus to a training session. They reportedly started searching on their phones for words that started with F that described the team. The top choices were feisty and fierce. Maroney and Wieber opted for "fierce", as they said it described their floor routines, and the rest of the team concurred. Maroney also stated, "There have been Fab Fives in the past but I like Fierce Five because we are definitely the fiercest team out there."
Despite the name change, some news sources still used the term Fab Five during the Olympics. When the U.S. won the team competition, NBC announcer Al Trautwig proclaimed, "The Fab Five is going gold!"
2012 Summer Olympics
The United States qualified in first place with an overall score of 181.863. Wieber, Douglas, and Raisman competed on all four events. Ross competed on uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise. Maroney competed on vault. For the individual all-around competition, Raisman, Douglas, and Wieber qualified in second, third, and fourth place, respectively. Due to the rule allowing only the top two from each country to compete in a World or Olympic individual final, only Raisman and Douglas advanced. Wieber had won the all-around at the previous year's World Championships and was photographed in tears after the qualifications.
Maroney, Douglas, and Wieber started off the team competition by performing the three highest-scoring vaults, giving the U.S. a lead that they would never relinquish. Douglas', Ross', and Wieber's scores combined for the third-highest score on uneven bars. Douglas, Raisman, and Ross kept the team in first with their performances on balance beam. Then, Raisman, Douglas, and Wieber clinched the gold medal by scoring first, third, and fourth highest on floor, respectively. The team finished with a score of 183.596, 5.066 points higher than second-place Russia; this was an "unheard-of" margin of victory. They became the second U.S. team, after the "Magnificent Seven" in 1996, to win the team competition.
Individual all-around and event finals
In the individual all-around competition, Douglas won the gold medal, becoming the first African-American woman to win the event. She was also the first American gymnast ever to win both the team and individual all-around gold at the same Olympics. Raisman tied for the third-highest score with Russian Aliya Mustafina. A tie breaker was used to determine the bronze medalist, which consisted of the lowest event score being dropped. This led to Mustafina taking the bronze medal.
Maroney was the only American to qualify for the vault final. As the defending world champion in this event, she scored a 15.866 on her first vault but fell on her second, scored a 14.300, and won the silver medal. Her facial expression while standing on the podium became an internet meme.
On the balance beam, Douglas finished in seventh. Raisman initially received a score of 14.966, which would have left her in fourth place. However, her coach inquired about the difficulty being too low, and the judges accepted and raised her difficulty score by one-tenth of a point. Her 15.066 matched Romanian Cătălina Ponor for third place, and this time, Raisman won the tie-breaker to earn the bronze medal.
In the floor final, Raisman won the gold medal with a score of 15.600, four-tenths ahead of the second-place Ponor. Raisman became the first American woman to win the gold medal on floor, and with her third medal overall, she was the most decorated member of the Fierce Five during the Olympics. Wieber finished seventh in the event.
Note 1: Wieber would have qualified for the all-around and Ross for the balance beam final, but they did not because only two athletes may represent each country in all-around and event finals.
Note 2: Although Wieber, Raisman, and Douglas all had top eight finishes on vault, none opted to do a second vault to qualify them for event finals.
In the week after the Olympic Games, the Fierce Five appeared on The Today Show and Late Show with David Letterman. They also rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange. In September, they appeared at the MTV Video Music Awards. The Fierce Five members were among those who performed in the 40-city Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions, which started in September. In November, they met U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House and performed on Dancing with the Stars in support of former gymnast Shawn Johnson. In December, Gabby Douglas was named the Associated Press female athlete of the year. Aly Raisman was a contestant on Season 16 of Dancing with the Stars. The group was nominated for Best Team at the 2013 ESPY Awards, and Douglas and Raisman were also nominated for individual awards. In August 2013, the team was inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame. At the 2013 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, Maroney won a gold medal on vault, and Ross won silver medals on all-around, uneven bars, and balance beam.
|The Fierce Five|
- "2012 Olympic Trials - Finals, Meet Results - Multi, women, Competition II/III" (PDF). Usagym.org. 2012-07-01. Retrieved 2012-08-14.
- "2012 Olympic Trials - Finals, Vault Rankings, Bars Rankings, Beam Rankings, Floor Rankings" (PDF). Usagym.org. 2012-07-01. Retrieved 2012-08-14.
- "USA Gymnastics announces women's gymnastics team for 2012 Olympic Games". Usagym.org. 2012-07-01.
- Chalat, Alexandra (2012-08-02). "Gabby Douglas and the Art of the Tap". newyorker.com. The New Yorker. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
- "Douglas wins all-around at 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials". Usagym.org. 2012-07-02. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
- "Gabrielle Douglas". London2012.com. Retrieved 2012-08-14.
- "Mc Kayla Maroney". London2012.com. Retrieved 2012-08-14.
- "Alexandra Raisman". London2012.com. Retrieved 2012-08-14.
- "Kyla Ross". London2012.com. Retrieved 2012-08-14.
- "Jordyn Wieber". London2012.com. Retrieved 2012-08-14.
- Whiteside, Kelly (2012-07-30). "Wieber's elimination from all-around stuns U.S. gymnasts". USA Today. Retrieved 2012-08-14.
- Golgowski, Nina (2012-08-01). "'Once upon a time two little girls dreamed of the Olympics': The six-year-old best friends who grew up to win gold together in the U.S. women's gymnastics". Mail Online. Daily Mail. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
- "Wieber leads USA to Gold". tokyo2011.fig-gymnastics.com. 2011-10-11. Retrieved 2012-08-14.
- Powers, John (2012-07-27). "Raisman named team captain". boston.com. The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
- Soshnick, Scott (2012-08-13). "'Fierce Five' Gymnasts Face Hurdle in Landing Nickname Trademark". businessweek.com. Bloomberg Businessweek. Bloomberg News. Retrieved 2012-08-14.
- "Needham Olympics hopeful Aly Raisman makes the cover of Sports Illustrated". boston.com. The Boston Globe. 2012-07-18. Retrieved 2012-08-14.
- Rexrode, Joe. "With Fab Five 'taken', U.S. gymnasts pick Fierce Five". usatoday.com. August 9, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- Manzullo, Brian (August 7, 2012). "Jalen Rose takes issue with U.S. gymnasts' nickname". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on August 15, 2012.
- "Fab Five gymnasts become Fierce Five". clickondetroit.com. August 9, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- Samuelsen, Jamie. "Jalen Rose: Don't Call The Olympic Gymnasts The 'Fab Five'". detroit.cbslocal.com. August 6, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- Almasy, Steve. "'Fab Five' brings home gymnastics gold". edition.cnn.com. August 1, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- "Fab 5: U.S. women claim gymnastics team gold". foxnews.com. July 31, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- Hiestand, Michael. "USA TODAY's recap of NBC's Tuesday night Olympics coverage". usatoday.com. August 1, 2012. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
- "Women's Qualification". london2012.com. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- "Women's Team". london2012.com. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- Jenkins, Sally. "U.S. women are simply flawless en route to dominant Olympic gold in team competition". washingtonpost.com. July 31, 2012. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
- "Official source: Olympic Records, World Records, Olympic Medalists". olympic.org. Retrieved August 23, 2012.
- Keating, Steve. "Fierce Five trump Magnificent Seven". reuters.com. July 31, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- Clarke, Liz. "Gymnast Gabby Douglas soars to women's all-around gold". washingtonpost.com. August 2, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- "Maroney Wins Vault Silver Medal at 2012 Olympic Games". usagym.org. August 5, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- Netburn, Deborah. "First meme of Olympics 2012: Gymnast McKayla Maroney is not impressed". latimes.com. August 9, 2012. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
- "Women's Uneven Bars". london2012.com. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- "Raisman earns two medals at 2012 Olympics: Team USA's first ever gold medal on floor, bronze medal on beam". usagym.org. August 7, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- "Results". usagym.org. July 31, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- Moraski, Lauren. "Gymnastics' 'Fierce Five' take on New York and TV". cbsnews.com. August 15, 2012. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
- Johnson, Zach. "Gabby Douglas Does Gymnastics During Alicia Keys Performance at MTV VMAs". usmagazine.com. September 6, 2012. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
- Niyo, John. "Gymnast Jordyn Wieber still riding high after Olympic gold". detroitnews.com. November 2, 2012. Retrieved November 17, 2012.
- Whiteside, Kelly. "Olympic gymnasts say goodbye on last stop of tour". usatoday.com. November 18, 2012. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
- Alexander, Bryan. "Fierce Five: Gold medals to disco ball on 'DWTS'". usatoday.com. November 27, 2012. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
- Armour, Nancy. "Douglas wins AP female athlete of the year honors". google.com. December 21, 2012. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
- "Dorothy Hamill and Andy Dick among 'Dancing' stars". New York Post. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
- "The Fierce Five, Douglas, Raisman are nominees for ESPY awards". usagym.org. June 28, 2013. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- Jacobs, Jeff. "Celebrating The 'Fierce Five'". courant.com. August 17, 2013. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
- "USA increases medal haul to 12 at 2013 World Gymnastics Championships". usagymworlds.com. October 6, 2013. Retrieved October 6, 2013.