Five-Ring Circus

The U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team Is Calling Itself “the Final Five.” Is That a Good Nickname?

Alexandra Raisman, Madison Kocian, Lauren Hernandez, Gabrielle Douglas, and Simone Biles celebrate on the podium at the medal ceremony for the artistic gymnastics women’s team final in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday.

David Ramos/Getty Images

On Tuesday in Rio de Janeiro, the U.S. women’s gymnastics team won the team gold medal that everyone knew would be theirs. Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian, and Gabby Douglas obliterated the competition, besting second-place Russia by 8.209 points, the biggest blowout ever in a major meet under the sport’s current scoring system. When it was over, the fivesome hugged, waved to the adoring crowd, then walked over to the cameras. Led by Raisman, their team captain, the American gymnasts put their hands together, raised them aloft, and shouted, “We are the Final Five!”

The Final Five.


The 2016 team’s nickname has long been the subject of speculation. The Magnificent Seven caught on in 1996 for Kerri Strug and her golden pals. The 2012 squad, led to gold by Douglas and Raisman, was the Fierce Five. Some of the sobriquets suggested this time around:

  • GLAMSquad. There’s Gabby, you see. Also Laurie. And Aly. And Madison. And Simone. GLAMS! “I think it’s cute, but that’s not going to be our name,” Raisman said. “I feel like it doesn’t really fit the athletes.”
  • Gold Squad. Suggested by Olympian Shawn Johnson, who is as bad at nicknaming as she is good at gymnastics.
  • Slay Squad or Phenomenal Five. Suggested by Biles’ coach Aimee Boorman. Pick one and go for it with gusto, Boorman!
  • The Golden Girls. And the card attached would say, “Thank you for sticking the landing.”
  • Phenomenal Five. The most popular choice in the NBC Olympics website’s online poll, because people are boring.
  • The New Fierce Five. The New Andy Griffith Show of nicknames.
  • 2 Fierce 2 Five. RIP Paul Walker.
  • Squad Golds. They’ve already (almost) got the T-shirts!

The Final Five, for me, evokes the horror movie trope of the final girl. And that’s fitting, because the GLAMS murdered the rest of the world at gymnastics things.

But revenge and blood and murder do not appear to be what these women had in mind. Here’s the Associated Press:

The U.S. women’s gymnastics team gave retiring national team coordinator Martha Karolyi a fitting send off in the Olympic finals on Tuesday night, putting on a two-hour display of precision and class. Their score of 184.897 was more than eight points points clear of silver medalist Russia, a blowout that Michael Jordan’s “Dream Team” should envy.

And here’s the website FloGymnastics in 2015:

The gymnastics Olympic team sizes have been reduced from five to four starting at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) voted on the proposal this week and an official confirmed the change was passed.

While the team size has been reduced to four, two additional gymnasts from the top countries have the potential of qualifying through other competitions. The change is set but the final rules and details have not been released.

So this nickname is a bit more clever than you might think at first glance. The five women on the 2016 U.S. gymnastics team are not GLAMS. They are not 2 Fierce. They are the last American quintet, at least until the sport’s governing body changes the rules again. (The early favorite for the 2020 team’s nickname: The First Four.) And the 2016 gold medalists are the great Martha Karolyi’s final team, the last chapter in a golden era of American gymnastics. That’s not a bad identity to have.

This post has been updated with additional information.

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