Simone Biles and the U.S. women’s gymnastics team led the field by a healthy margin halfway through qualifying on Sunday afternoon.
Powered by Biles’ soaring vaults — she was the only one to score over 16 — and floor exercise, the US team that also included Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and Laurie Hernandez was more than five points ahead of the Netherlands 92.774-87.558.
Britain was third at 87.066 after two rotations.
The US headed to uneven bars where they were able to call on Madison Kocaian, the 2015 world champion on the apparatus.
The US seemed well on its way to the gold medal it has been picked for even by opponents.
Russian star Aliya Mustafina said in the weeks leading up to the Olympics that the star-laden U.S. team is pretty much unstoppable.
Given a chance following Olympic preliminaries on Sunday to take it back, Mustafina instead doubled down. Considering the way the two teams most likely to challenge the U.S. performed during early qualifying, it's hard to blame her.
"It's going to be really difficult to compete against the American team," Mustafina said through a translator. "They are unbeatable at the moment."
China and Russia both struggled at times on Sunday, beset by mistakes they can't afford to make if they want to make the team finals on Tuesday anything more than a coronation.
While the Chinese led through two subdivisions after posting a score of 175.279 — just ahead of Russia's 174.620 — they didn't do much to strike fear in the Americans as they prepared to take the floor later Sunday afternoon.
"We need to fight," said Mustafina, the 2010 world champion. "We need to do our best and see what happens, but it's going to be quite difficult."