It took shape Thursday in a performance relentless in its efficiency. The night evolved into a duel between Douglas and Komova for gold. Douglas staked herself to a lead on the vault, and Komova pulled it back on the uneven bars. From there, it was a matter of who would hold their nerve on the beam and floor, and Douglas never flinched.
Before these Games began, Mr. Chow compared Douglas to his previous star pupil, Beijing all-around silver medalist Shawn Johnson. "Shawn is a more self-controlled individual," he answered. "Gabby ... still needs a lot of maintenance."
Translation: Well before Beijing began, Ms. Johnson had figured it out. She was a world champion. She had been tested. She knew that the only substitute for hard work was harder work. She had bought in and did not need a baby-sitter.
"I will be very excited to see what's going to be happening in the next two weeks or so," he said.
Translation: This is Gabby's test, and we won't know if she's a true champion until after she's taken it.
Chow, it seems, was along for the ride just like us this week.
There were inklings, though, and each stronger than the one before. First, she beat all-around favorite Jordyn Wieber in US trials. Then she posted a higher score than Ms. Wieber again in the Olympic qualifying round here. And two nights ago, she was the anchor of the gold-winning US team – the only American to perform in all four rotations.