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The Fierce Five have finished their run at the London Summer Olympics. Fierce Five is the nickname given to America's whiz-kid female gymnasts - average age just a bit over 16. They started the Games by winning the most important gold medal, in the team event. They finished yesterday with their team captain finally getting a break that seemed elusive. From London, here's NPR's Tom Goldman.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: When it was over, you heard Aly Raisman before you saw her.
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GOLDMAN: The gold and bronze medals around her neck finally stopped clanking when Raisman plopped down in a chair for her victory press conference. But they will never stop shining for this 18-year-old who often has missed out on the hardware.
ALY RAISMAN: I've gone fourth place like a million times, so especially at World Championships and fourth in the all-around two years in a row and I was fourth on the beam last year.
GOLDMAN: And a couple of maddening fourths at these Olympics - fourth in the all-around after having the same score as the bronze medal winner but losing out to a tiebreaker rule. And fourth again yesterday in the balance beam competition, after what appeared to be a medal-worthy performance.
When her score went up on the board, the whistles and boos cascaded down from the seats. But Raisman says legendary coach Bela Karolyi and his wife Marta, the U.S. team coordinator, didn't waste time booing.
RAISMAN: It was actually Marta and Bela who were really upset when they saw the score. And they were the ones that yelled for him to put in the inquiry in.
GOLDMAN: Him, Raisman's coach Mihai Brestyan, quickly filed the inquiry, or protest, at a cost of $300. A panel quickly studied her video performance, while those whistling fans now sat silent.
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GOLDMAN: To the crowd's delight, the panel agreed with the Karolyis and Brestyan, and decided that Raisman had been marked too low. Here's the sweet irony: Raisman's new and improved score tied her, again, with the third place finisher. But this time, the tiebreaker went to Raisman. The fourth place kid had her bronze. Oh, and the team got the 300 bucks back.
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GOLDMAN: Raisman says winning that dramatic bronze gave her a shot of confidence heading into the last event of the day, the floor exercise. It showed. She flew across and above the mat, landing her moves with verve, a winning performance, a cause for clanking.
Raisman's triumphant day contrasted with teammates Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber - the two major U.S. stars coming into the games finished seventh of eight in their events yesterday.
For Wieber, the reigning all-around world champion, a disappointing end, brought on, at least partly, by a suspected stress fracture in her lower leg. Douglas, who won gold in the prestigious all-around to go with her team gold, leaves London on a new life trajectory. People are going to notice me more, she says. There'll be parades and autographs. It's going to be insane, says the 16-year-old, but I'm ready for it.
Tom Goldman, NPR News, London.
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