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Marta Karolyi says U.S. women are best team ever

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Marta Karolyi coached her final U.S. women's national gymnastics team to a gold medal here Tuesday at the Rio Olympic Arena. She said afterwards that "The Final Five," as the athletes dubbed their squad in her honor, was the greatest of all time.

"That's what I feel," said Karolyi, who will retire as team coordinator after the Olympics, "because year by year, ever since I started my job as coordinator, 16 years, every year we improved and improved, and finally we got to this point."

The U.S. women won in dominating fashion, surging to the early lead and validating the notion that they were an unbeatable contingent. They won the gold by 10 points, the largest margin of victory since the Soviet Union over Czechoslovakia in 1960. It was the second straight Olympic gold for the U.S. women -- Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez, Gaby Douglas and Madison Kocian -- and their fifth straight international title in all.

The team decided before the final to name themselves "Final Five" because they were Karolyi's final team. She took over as coordinator in 2001, after her husband Bela turned the program over to her amid pressure from within the gymnastics community. They told her after the event concluded.

"Final Five made me cry," said Karolyi, who turns 74 later this month. "Don't remind me, because I don't want to cry again. They told me now, after the competition was ended, so that was really, really, really sentimental moment for me. And I'm proud of this team, and I'm so happy if they feel like dedicating the name of the team to me."

I asked her if this team was the greatest expression of her vision for gymanstics

"I feel like this is really the top of all the teams that I had all the way until this point," she said.

Great way to go out, I said.

"Way to go out! Go out with a bang," she said with a laugh.

 

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