AUGUSTA — People arriving at Mainely Gymnastics on Tuesday night were greeted with a great big spoiler alert, in the form of a hand-written sign on the front door.

“If you know the results of tonight’s Olympics, don’t ruin it for those that don’t know. We want to be surprised!” the sign read.

“I forced myself to not know what happened,” Gabrielle Elkin, 11, said.

NBC broadcast the women’s team gymnastic finals tape-delayed, hours after the event was complete. Many fans arrived at Mainely Gymnastics to watch already knowing that Team USA won the gold medal in London. It was the United States’ first team gold since winning in Atlanta in 1996.

“It’s been impossible to keep everybody from knowing,” Delani Evans, owner of Mainely Gymnastics, said. “But I think knowing what happened makes it exciting. Who would you rather celebrate the USA winning with than your gymnastics friends?”

This was the third viewing party hosted by the Evans family. In 2004 and 2008, Delani’s mother, Carol, hosted viewing parties for the women’s team competition at Decal Gymnastics in Skowhegan. Delani Evans said she expected close to 100 fans to watch the Olympics from Mainely Gymnastics. A 92-inch television and a 60-inch television were set up in different corners of the room. Evans’ sister, Carlee, made the trip from Portland to watch the event.

“It’s been a family affair,” Delani Evans said.

Evans was 10 when she watched the 1996 team win gold.

“I remember watching Kerri Strug land on one foot, and I went running downstairs to my parents, yelling ‘Did you see that?'”

For the young gymnasts, the Olympics serves as motivation and also a coaching tool. When they see the Olympic athletes perform the same routines they practice, they can see the things their coaches preach, Roni Miller, 14, said.

“They do it the right way, and it’s cool to see,” Miller said.

Added Elkin: “It’s like motivation for girls. You think ‘I can do this. I look up to her and I can do this.'”

One member of Team USA Miller and Elkin looked forward to seeing compete was Gabby Douglas.

“She came out of nowhere, and she’s really good,” Miller said.

Evans had small prizes, including T-shirts, calendars and head bands, to give away in trivia contests, and expected fans from as far away as Farmington and Lewiston. Interest in gymnastics always rises in Olympic years, Evans said.

“I’ve already had a lot of kids ask about it in the last few days,” Evans said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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