The U.S. Olympic team fielded a stellar cast across a range of sports, but one woman, not competing herself, deserves special attention. Marta Karolyi, the coach for the women’s gymnastics team, at the end of the 2016 Olympics will have coached her last Olympic team.
And what a team she led as the national coordinator for women’s gymnastics! The Final Five, as they were dubbed in a tribute to her leadership, has brought home an astounding haul of medals: four gold, four silver and one bronze.
Simone Biles who dazzled on the floor exhibit, was accompanied in her quest for gold by Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian. These five women all were absolutely wonderful in Rio, and the pride and admiration for these young women has sparked a national conversation about women.
Their coach deserves a lot of credit for crafting an approach to work across a national scale. Before the Karolyis (Marta and her husband Bela) modified it, each gymnast trained at home with their individual coaches, That led to uneven outcomes. The genius of what Marta accomplished after she was tapped to lead the effort, was to provide a central monthly team wide training camp in east Texas…the members worked together, and the coaches across the nation understood their national goal.
Marta’s unique style and deep knowledge of the sport led to astonishing successes. But of course she was working with highly skilled, dedicated young women from all across the country.
The Final Five understood her role and chose to honor her with the name. Marta and five young fantastically gifted and hard-working young women swept the U.S. to an unprecedented win this season.
Our hats off to all of them.