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Rio 2016 Olympics U.S. gymnasts lean on each other to reach unseen height

A runaway gold medal on Tuesday was the product of a group that knows its top competition is sharing the same locker room.

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Their predecessors may have been "fierce," but the five American women who dazzled their way to gymnastics gold on Tuesday attributed their success to focus, as much as anything.

"We come into workouts every day with a very determined mindset, and just to get everything done, and that really showed off today," said Laurie Hernandez, at 16 the youngest member of the dominant United States squad.

"We're always building each other up and making sure that we're cheering for each other and shouting 'C'mon, you got it, confidence.'

"Before we even got out on the floor Martha (Karolyi, the outgoing USA national team coordinator) told us: 'Just do what you've been doing in the gym, you guys have been training so hard, all the repetitions are going to pay off.' We did just that."

The result was a stunning eight-point margin of victory over the silver medallists from Russia, a dominant showing that built off the statement the US women made in Sunday's qualifiers. That day's work saw Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas post the top three all-around scores among all competitors, a remarkable achievement borne out by the ease with which the Americans ran away with a second consecutive gold.

"We are so successful because we believe in ourselves," Biles said. "Our team believes in each other. That is what helps us. It hasn't been easy but we have done everything we could have done to get where we are."

The 19-year-old superstar lived up to her billing by posting the top score of any competitor in vault, balance beam and floor exercise on Tuesday. She could well take home gold in each of those individual events and is expected to cruise to the all-around title later in the Games.

While greater glory surely awaits for the Texan, most of her team-mates will have likely reached their peaks on Tuesday simply because they will have to contend with Biles herself going forward. That as much as anything was the key for this team: each athlete's top competitors were wearing the same leotard.

Winning team gymnastics gold brings with it a special cachet in the US, as the 2012 squad and their beloved 1996 predecessors learned. Repeat champions Raisman and Douglas have already prepped their first-time team-mates for the spotlight that awaits, but they will not have another moment together like the one they experienced on Tuesday afternoon.

"Coming out in this arena it feels like you're in a movie or some kind of insane, amazing dream," Raisman said. "We kept that energy going and we stayed calm. Of course you are nervous, but we just did exactly what we did in training."

"I'm surprised - I guess I cried four years ago and I didn't cry this time."

Special as it was, this time, it was expected.

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