AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky

One by one, the vanquished competitors came backstage after being outclassed by the mighty United States women's gymnastics team.

But there were so many smiles, so little of the dejection that normally is connected with coming up short in the Olympics. It appeared that most of the young women who were in the competition knew it wasn't really a competition at all, that they were up against an unbeatable opponent. So rather than lament the lack of gold, they celebrated sharing a stage with a historically great team.

"I do really enjoy it, especially the last round," Celine Van Gerner of the Netherlands said. "You already know they’re going to win because they can fall three times each or something like that. It’s amazing to watch."

Everyone was smiling, except for one.

China's Mao Yi's eyes were red and her cheeks were soaked with tears after a fall in the floor exercise essentially ended the proud nation's hopes at a silver medal. Instead, China finished third behind Russia.

Teammate Shang Chunsong said she was proud of her team but also acknowledged coming up short of their goal of a silver medal.

"I do feel a little pity and a little sad," she said. "If we eliminate a few mistakes we could probably have gotten silver."


AP Photo/Julio Cortez