The American women’s gymnastics team concluded their run in Rio with a historic nine medals, and a surprise visit by their celebrity crush. But the members of the self-dubbed "Final Five" say the significance of it all has yet to sink in.
“I think it’s something that probably won’t hit us for a long time. We’re just on cloud nine right now,” team captain Aly Raisman told TODAY on Thursday. “It feels like it’s just a dream. It hasn’t sunk in at all, but it’s just incredible. We all worked so hard to get to this point, so it’s really special that it paid off.”
Simone Biles said it's been a strange experience seeing their faces all over magazine covers, including the newest edition of People.
"It's still very crazy to see us all over America," she said. "It's crazy. It’s weird."
The team began its reign with gold-winning performances in the all-around competition. Members continued to add to the medal count during individual competitions, with standout Biles and her five medals — four of them gold — leading the way. In the end, the team won nine medals, the most from any U.S. gymnastics team in history.
But Laurie Hernandez said memories of the group's unity is what she will remember the most.
“The fact that we just were able to work so well as a team to get that team gold and just enjoy it all together,” she said, adding that she also loved “just being able to room with all the girls. There are so many memories.”
Right after their medal wins comes the moment Zac Efron surprised them on TODAY. Biles has a life-sized cardboard cutout of the actor in her bedroom, so the moment was especially wonderful.
The team dubbed themselves the “Final Five” early on, in part because it will be the last time an Olympic gymnastics team will have five members (the next Summer Games will include four). But the nickname primarily represents a nod to being the final Olympic team of their gymnastics coach, Marta Karolyi.
The legendary team coach described it as “absolutely fantastic” to end her Olympic career.
“It’s like a dream came true to have the most successful team for the final of my very long gymnastics career,” Karolyi said. “And I’m so proud of these girls and I want to thank them for all their dedication and hard work that they put in.”