Magnificent Seven (gymnastics)
The Magnificent Seven is the name given to the 1996 United States Olympic Women's Gymnastics Team that won the first ever Gold Medal for the United States in the Women's Team Competition at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The seven members of the team were Shannon Miller, Dominique Moceanu, Dominique Dawes, Kerri Strug, Amy Chow, Amanda Borden, and Jaycie Phelps. Miller, Dawes, and Chow also won individual medals in the 1996 Olympics. The team is perhaps best known for Strug sticking the landing on a vault while injured.
1996 Olympics 
The accomplishment was considered phenomenal because the then defunct Soviet Union had won the event in every Olympics it had entered since the 1950s. Furthermore, the United States had never won the event in either the Olympics or the World Championships. Yet, in Atlanta, they fielded the deepest U.S. team in history and upstaged both the Russians and the Romanians, then reigning as World Champions for the second time.
Individual stars 
The leader of the Magnificent 7 is often said to be Shannon Miller, the most decorated American gymnast in history. The other two individual stars on the team were Dominique Dawes and Dominique Moceanu.
However, Kerri Strug qualified for the All-Around over Moceanu when Moceanu fell on both of her vaults as the second to last gymnast to perform. Moments later, Strug fell on her first vault, injuring her ankle, and in the most enduring moment of the Games, she vaulted again, "stuck the landing" on one leg, collapsed, and had to be carried off the podium. The vault assured Kerri a place in the All-Around, but she was unable to compete due to the injury.
The other three members on the team were less heralded. Nevertheless, they were an integral part of the team's success. Amy Chow had the highest difficulty of anyone on the team, most notably on the uneven bars. Jaycie Phelps provided clean lines and solid gymnastics on all four events. The final member to qualify for the team, Amanda Borden, was named Team Captain due to her vivacious personality.
The highest two scoring athletes on the team during the compulsories did not even perform at the Olympic Trials. Both Miller and Moceanu had been sidelined with injuries, but were named to the team anyway, proving that the petition-system was in the team's best interest.
All-Around finals 
In the All-Around finals, Dominique Moceanu had a big balance check after her punch front on the balance beam which ultimately knocked her out of contention when she only scored a 9.600. Despite the low score she still managed to finish 9th in the all-around. In stark contrast, Dominique Dawes and Shannon Miller both started out on the uneven bars, and after the first two rotations (uneven bars and balance beam) they were in 1st and 2nd place respectively. The excitement however, proved to be short lived. Miller came up short on her first tumbling pass on floor (a double layout), and stepped out of bounds on her last tumbling pass on floor (a full twisting double back). A score of 9.475 dashed any dreams of a medal for her. Next up was Dawes, and while doing a punch front on floor she fell out of bounds. She scored a 9.000 and just like that team USA was completely out of the all-around contention. Miller ended up placing 8th, while Dawes placed 17th. World champion Lilia Podkopayeva took the title and the gold, while the three Romanians took revenge for their disappointing team bronze by sweeping the other medals (Gina Gogean won silver, and Simona Amânar and Lavinia Miloşovici tied for bronze).
Olympic team scores 
|United States (USA)||97.209||2||97.809||1||96.410||2||97.797||1||389.225|
For all team scores see Gymnastics at the 1996 Summer Olympics – Women's artistic team all-around
Event finals 
Vault finals 
During event finals team USA did considerably better. On day one of event finals on vault both Shannon Miller (subbing for an injured Kerri Strug) and Dominique Dawes competed. Neither were flawless, with Miller falling on her second vault, and they finished 6th (Dawes) and 8th (Miller). Simona Amânar of Romania won with a 9.825 average, while Mo Huilan of China finished second (9.768) and Gina Gogean of Romania third (9.750).
Uneven bars 
On the next event, uneven bars, both Amy Chow and Dominique Dawes competed. Amy Chow had a great routine to score a 9.837 which tied Bi Weijing for second. Svetlana Khorkina finished first (9.850) and Dominique Dawes finished fourth (9.800).
Balance beam event finals 
On the balance beam event finals was where the USA crowd saw the most drama. Dominique Moceanu and Shannon Miller were both competing, and they were both supposed to challenge for gold. Moceanu, however, had a very scary fall. During her flight series of a back handspring followed by three layouts, she missed her foot on the second layout but still flipped over and smashed her head into the beam. Somehow she was able to grab onto the beam with both hands, but the damage had already been done with a score of 9.125 and 6th place. Miller, however, did well to score a 9.862 and win the beam title.
This was the only individual gold for the United States at the 1996 Olympics and only the third ever individual Olympic gold for U.S. women's gymnastics – the first in a non-boycotted Olympics. (Mary Lou Retton won all-around gold in 1984 and Julianne McNamara won gold on uneven bars in 1984). Since then, five American women gymnasts have won individual Olympic gold medals: Carly Patterson (all-around in 2004), Nastia Liukin (all-around in 2008), Shawn Johnson (balance beam in 2008), Gabby Douglas (all-around in 2012), and Aly Raisman (floor exercise in 2012)
Floor final 
During the floor final Dominique Moceanu and Dominique Dawes both competed. They both had great routines; however Dawes was just a little better for a 9.837 and 3rd place, while Moceanu received a 9.825 and 4th place. The crowd loved Moceanu's cute choreography and presentation, but her tumbling was not as difficult as the three medallists.
Post Olympics 
The Magnificent Seven went on tour after their gold medal performance. Strug, however, elected not to join the other six members, due to her injuries sustained from the Olympics.
The entire team appeared on a Wheaties cereal box and on several talk shows. Miller, once again the most successful member of the team following her 5 medal total in the Barcelona Games, captured the only individual gold for the American women. Her gold medal on the balance beam was a first for an American, followed only by Shawn Johnson at the 2008 games.
In 2012, viewers were able to vote on some of the greatest Olympic moments in NBC history for a special Top 30 Olympic Moments program to air July 21, prior to the London Olympics. Kerri Strug's vault was one of the clips and ended up receiving the most votes, placing first on the countdown.
See also 
- Women's gymnastics events at the 1996 Summer Olympics
- Fierce Five, gymnastics team that won the United States' second ever gold medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics
- Kerri's Strug vault as part of the most memorable Olympic moments
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