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Lauren Hernandez of the USA competes on the Beam during the Women's Team Final of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Artistic Gymnastics events at the Rio Olympic Arena in Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 09 August 2016.
Photograph: EPA/HOW HWEE YOUNG

The US women's gymnastics team breezed through to a gold medal at the Rio Olympics on Tuesday, leaving their closest competitor Russia trailing behind by eight points.

There had been no question that the United States would triumph, after finishing ahead in the qualification round by an unusually high margin of nearly 10 points on their closest competitor.

The US has now medalled in the women's team event for seven Olympics in a row, among them three golds.

This year's team includes 19-year-old Simone Biles, who is competing in her first Games, but is already considered by some to be the greatest female gymnast ever. She has won a record 10 gold medals at world championships.

Biles garnered some of the biggest cheers at the Rio arena on Tuesday, but appeared largely unfazed.

The US gymnasts consistently scored over 15 points, except for scores of 14.8 for Biles on the uneven bars and for Lauren Hernandez on the floor exercise.

The team, which also includes London gold-medal winner Gabby Douglas, team captain Alexandra Raisman and Madison Kocian, finished with an overall score of 184.897 points.

The competition for silver was more cut-throat, with Russia and China trading places as the competition went along. But China lost precious points after Mao Yi fell during her floor routine, leaving the Asian country with a total of 176.003 points and the bronze medal.

Russia took silver with 176.688 points, despite its team facing the additional pressure of booing from the audience. The Rio Olympics have been overshadowed by allegations that Russia has been carrying out state-sponsored doping.

The gymnasts from host nation Brazil drew the biggest cheers from spectators at the Olympic Arena, with the crowd roaring its approval especially for 16-year-old Flavia Saraiva. But the country finished eighth with 172.087 points.

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