(NBCOlympics.com) — Fans wanted “GLAMSquad,” Simone Biles’ coach suggested “Slay Squad,” and fans voted for “Phenomenal Five”
But it was up to the athletes themselves to decide what name they wanted to be written in the Olympic history books. First there was the Magnificent Seven. Then the Fierce Five. And now, the Final Five.
Simone Biles, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and members of 2012’s team Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas teased fans after they arrived in Rio that they’d chosen a nickname, but said they wouldn’t reveal it until after the team final.
Seemed appropriate, as the Atlanta and London teams didn’t get their names until after they won team gold.
The Magnificent Seven was coined by an agent, Dominique Dawes remembers. Dawes, Shannon Miller, Kerri Strug, Dominique Moceanu, Amanda Borden, Amy Chow and Jaycie Phelps, the first U.S. women to win gold at the1996 Atlanta Olympic, didn’t get a say.
In London, Raisman, Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross were originally named Fab Five, but they changed it because the name had previously been used for the University of Michigan’s 1991 men’s basketball team.
“I think we were all really just fierce and determined,” Douglas said. “And actually McKayla came up with that name the Fierce Five. I don’t know who said the Fab Five. We were like, let’s call ourselves the Fab Five, but then some baseball team had it or something, so that was out. Then McKayla was like, ‘Fierce! Let’s be the Fierce Five!’ And we’re just like, ‘Okay, yeah, that works.'”
So this squad took control early, and came up with a name with a lot of significance.
When the athletes received their winning score at the end of the team final, they leapt up onto the floor podium and huddled up. With team captain Raisman leading, they cheered, “We are the Final Five!”
Many assumed that the name was a reference to the change in gymnastics team size that will take place at the Tokyo Olympics. In 2020, a country will be able to field a team of just 4 gymnasts in the final, although they’ll also be able to bring a maximum of two individual gymnasts who don’t compete with the team. Thus, this will be the last Olympic gymnastics team to be made of five members.
But they soon revealed that the meaning was a lot more personal. The nickname referred to the imminent retirement of Martha Karolyi, the legendary Romanian coach who has been the national team coordinator of the U.S. women’s gymnastics program for the last 15 years.