- Associated Press - Monday, July 30, 2012

LONDON — The Americans need Jordyn Wieber to regain her swagger in a hurry if they’re going to hold off Russia for Olympic gold.

The two gymnastic powers have been trading places in team competition for two years and will face off again on the biggest stage for an Olympic title Tuesday night.

The Russians won the world championship in 2010, then finished second to the U.S. last year.

Defending world champ Wieber failed to qualify for the all-around competition at the London Olympics, but the U.S. women will be depending on her for a comeback if they’re going to win their first team gold medal since the “Magnificent Seven” of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

“We’re going to have to cheer her up and hype her up,” said teammate Gabrielle Douglas, a Virginia Beach native.

After failing to qualify for the all-around, the 17-year-old Wieber sobbed and was consoled by teammates. She didn’t speak to reporters afterward.

Later, she posted on Twitter: “I am so proud of our team today and I can’t wait for team finals!!”

O2 Arena has rocked so far, and with host nation Britain in the mix after missing the team final at the 2008 Beijing Games, the scene should be even more festive — especially after the British captured their first Olympic team gymnastics medal in more than 80 years with a bronze in Monday’s men’s competition.

Now, it’s Wieber and Douglas‘ turn to chase that elusive American team gold and try to accomplish something the Nastia Liukin-Shawn Johnson show of 2008 couldn’t in Beijing, where China captured gold on its home turf.

Former world champion Aliya Mustafina and the focused Russians were the only squad to come close to challenging the U.S. team after Sunday’s qualifying.

And they’re so determined to beat the Americans, Russia’s athletes blew through the mixed zone without even speaking to their own reporters. The word is they won’t be heard from until the job is done.

The U.S. women’s team will look to reach the top spot on the podium a day after the American men’s team finished a disappointed fifth.

While the U.S. dominated team qualifying Sunday with a score of 181.863, the Russians are determined to keep closing the gap with the world watching.