Russian Group Golden as Olympics End
(10 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

The Russian rhythmic group took the final gymnastics gold medal Sunday at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

The favored Russian rhythmic group took the final gymnastics gold medal Sunday at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Russia — Anastasia Bliznyuk, Uliana Donskova, Ksenia Dudkina, Alina Makarenko, Anastasia Nazarenko and Karolina Sevastyanova — won their fourth straight Olympic group title.

Belarus (Maryna Hancharova, Anastasiya Ivankova, Nataliya Leshchyk, Aliaksandra Narkevich, Ksenia Sankovich and Alina Tumilovich) took the silver medal over Italy (Elisa Blanchi, Romina Laurito, Marta Pagnini, Elisa Santoni, Anzhelika Savrayuk, and Andreea Stefanescu) by a mere .05, with the two nations swapping places from qualification.

Spain, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Japan and Israel rounded out the eight finalists.

The Russian group easily took the top score with both exercises, scoring 28.700 with the five balls and 28.300 with the three hoops/two ribbons exercise, to give them a winning total of 57.00.

The Italians scored 28.125 for their first exercise with the five balls, putting them in second ahead of Bulgaria (27.950) and Belarus (27.825).

But a botched routine with the three hoops/two ribbons — which earned a last-place 26.425 — dropped Bulgaria out of the medals. Belarus ended strongly with 27.675, second only to Russia.

Italy, the three-time defending world champion, settled for bronze after a .2 penalty with the second exercise.

Yevgenia Kanayeva took the individual gold medal on Saturday, giving Russia its fourth straight gold-medal sweep of rhythmic gymnastics at the Olympic Games.

The rhythmic group competition debuted at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, where Spain won the event over Bulgaria and Russia. Russia has won the four gold medals since, topping Belarus and Greece in 2000, Italy and Bulgaria in 2004 and China and Belarus in 2008.

Russia fieled an entirely new squad in London. Belarusians Ivankova, Sankovich and Tumilovich were the only repeat medalists from Beijing. Santoni and Savrayuk also competed in Beijing, where Italy placed fourth.

The Olympic Games officially end Sunday evening in London with the Closing Ceremony.

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