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Local Gymnast Soars to Olympic Gold on Near-Perfect Vault

McKayla Maroney, a Long Beach resident and south Orange County native, earned the highest score of any Olympic women gymnasts, as the 'Fab5' U.S. team takes the gold medal.

Did you see it? McKayla Maroney, who calls Laguna Niguel her hometown, performed a near-perfect vault at the London Olympics Tuesday.

You can see the vault in slow motion at NBC's website. It's just as impressive, if not moreso, in slo-mo.

The crowd-pleasing U.S. women's gymnastics team, which incredibly also includes Aliso Viejo resident Kyla Ross, dominated their Olympics events in London Tuesday at the team finals, where all five shined. Some commentators noted that Maroney, who entered only one event, set the team on its dominant path with her early, commanding vault.

As David Zirin, sports editor @thenation and tweeting @edgesports put it afterward: "McKayla Maroney is the Dennis Rodman of this team: a genius at one thing, and indispensable."

Huffington Post Sports reported that the U.S. women captured the gold medal with an overall score of 183.596. Russia scored a 178.530 to take the silver and Romania won the bronze with a score of 176.414.

The 2012 U.S. women's gymnastics team: Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Ross and Maroney, who lives in Long Beach and grew up in Laguna Niguel. According to the Olympic format, each team selects three gymnasts for each of the four apparatuses in the final -- balance beam, uneven bars, vault and floor.

From Huffington Post: "The 16-year-old Douglas performed in each of the rotations while Wieber was called on for the floor, vault and uneven bars. Raisman worked the floor and the beam, with Ross performing on the beam and the uneven bars. Maroney was the only U.S. gymnast with just one event---but no one on the team registered a score higher than her 16.233 on vault. That score was the highest of all competitors in the team final.

"Russia was the primary challenger for the U.S. team in middle stages of the competition but completely fell apart during the floor routine, with two gymnasts falling during their routines. After Russia's mistakes, the U.S. team headed to the floor knowing three solid performances would likely win them the gold. Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber and Aly Raisman delivered impressive floor routines to clinch the first team gold for the U.S. since the "Magnificent Seven" won in 1996.

To read the full Huffington Post story, click here.

"After Douglas opened up the U.S. turn on the floor with a 15.066 score, Wieber proved that she was not going to let her disappointment in missing the individual all-around distract her in the team competition. Delivering a confident, powerful performance, Wieber seemed to be struggling just to contain her excitement near the end of her routine, knowing how close she was to a gold medal. Rounding out the U.S. trio on the mat, Raisman scored a team-high 15.300. With tears in her eyes, she left the mat knowing that the U.S. would be atop the medal stand.

"Perhaps to the delight of Jalen Rose Chris Webber, told Will Graves of The Associated Press after the competition that the quintet would like to be called the "Fierce Five" rather than the "Fab Five" as some had taken to calling them."

Beyond their talent, the fierce nickname seems most fitting of the U.S. gymnasts, who displayed devotion for one another as media cameras swarmed them hugging after each performance.

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