Shortly before Simone Biles took the balance beam for the final rotation of the day, teammate Madison Kocian called out to her.
“You got this, Simone!” she said Sunday afternoon at the Arena Olimpico de Rio. “Put yourself back in the gym. You got it.”
Oh, did she ever.
On the balance beam — but also in the floor exercise, vault and all-around, too. Biles soared above the competition with the top score on every apparatus but bars — where Kocian’s 15.866 was best.
She and the rest of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team led easily in the team qualification and on every apparatus, too. The Americans’ total of 185.238 was almost 10 points up on second-place China’s 175.279, an absurd margin.
Biles landed a 16.000 on vault, a 15.733 on the floor exercise and a 15.633 on that beam routine. She will be joined on beam by Laurie Hernandez, whose floor performace was fourth best, but third on the US behind Biles and Aly Raisman. Kocian will be joined on bars by 2012 all-around champion Gabby Douglas.
Raisman was second in all-around qualifying and Douglas was third, but only two gymnasts from each country can compete.
Russia was third with 174.620, followed by Britain, Brazil, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands, who all qualified for the team final on Tuesday.
The expected coronation of the United States is well underway. But even if others predicted success for them — Russia’s Aliya Mustafina called them “unbeatable” — the gymnasts demonstrated that they stil clearly felt the pressure.
After competition was complete Sunday, the five could be seen discussing the jitters and wobbly legs they experienced entering the arena.
Said Raisman, who won three medals in London 2012: “I thought I was going to, like, projectile vomit.”