Gold: China. They have difficulty, wonderful form, excellent preparation and home court advantage. Unlike the Chinese men, they’ve never felt how great it is to win a team final, but from Cheng Fei down, this feels like a special group of athletes. Their A scores are so much higher than everyone else’s that they can afford to make a few small errors or maybe two big ones, but not many more than that. Expect them to prevail.
Silver: USA. Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson proved they are the two best in the world after prelims. But the U.S. has some problems in putting up a very necessary third gymnast in team finals who is as good as China’s no. 3 on each event. Also, too much has happened to rattle the Americans’ cages since the Games began: Samantha Peszek’s injury, Chellsie Memmel’s mistake on bars in prelims, talk of overtraining. Without Peszek or Memmel, they don’t have a great third floorworker and face the choice of possibly tiring Liukin or having her go out of bounds, as she’s prone to doing.
Bronze: Russia. They’ve got a nice combination of depth, difficulty and form that will please the judges, although probably not challenge the U.S. and certainly not China. Romania looks weak, underprepared and like it can’t wait to go home. Australia did fairly well but needs Daria Joura at her best in finals to have a decent shot at the bronze.