SAN DIEGO, July 29, 2012 — The woman that wins the gymnastics all-around gold medal becomes the princess of the Olympic Games. We know them on a first name basis: Nadia. Mary Lou. Carly. Nastia.
The world assumed the name Jordyn would join this list. But the world didn’t count on Jordyn Wieber’s American teammates edging her out with better scores in qualifying. So it will be Aly, as in Raisman, and Gabrielle, as in Douglas vying for the title on Tuesday night in London.
Weiber failed to qualify as one of the 24 gymnasts who will compete for the title. A combination of mistakes by Wieber and Douglas on floor exercises where both stepped out of bounds opened the door for Raisman. Raisman, who is the world bronze medallist in the floor exercise, performed a spectacular routine and dropped Weiber to third place among the Americans. A maximum of two gymnasts from each country are permitted to compete in the all-around finals. (11:30 a.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday in the U.S.).
Weiber was only 0.233 points behind, and in fourth overall, but it wasn’t good enough.
America’s gymnastics hopefuls are in the media spotlight long before the Games begin. They are featured in TV promos, numerous commercials, and get treated like rock stars with preview interviews and fawning normally reserved for hot actresses and singers. This is before they’ve earned a single Olympic medal. Are we as a nation putting them under far too much pressure? Yes, the pressure exists without this, but we are certainly adding to it with this kind of attention.
The shocker threatened to overshadow the otherwise excellent performance of the American team, which sits in first place in qualifying for the team competition ahead of the Russian, Chinese and British teams. Romania, Italy, Japan and Canada join the finalists vying for the gold medal on Monday night (11:30 a.m. Eastern Time in the U.S.). The Americans blew away the field with strong vaulting and balance beam routines, and also winning the floor exercise despite mistakes. The Russians caught up in the uneven bars, the only event in which the Americans failed to clear the field.
Wieber was so devastated she left without speaking to the media. Later, the Olympic Games press office distributed this quote from Wieber: “It is a bit of a disappointment. It has always been a dream of mine to compete in the all-around final of the Olympics.”
The team coaches expressed concerns that Wieber’s teammates would be so rattled by the outcome that they would let it affect their performance on Tuesday. The U.S. has high hopes for a team gold, which would be only their second team medal after the “Magnificent Seven” team won in Atlanta in 1996.
“We will deal with that. We will try to help her as much as possible,” said coach Marta Karolyi. “I would be very disappointed, too. She is reigning world champion, also U.S. champion. Today she wasn’t quite as sharp. She was very good, but not quite as sharp and the other two girls (who) surpassed her. So we will give her all the support.
“What can you do? Sport is sport.”
There is something of a curse that played out with Weiber, who is the reigning all-around world champion. Only four world champions have ever gone on to win the Olympic all-around title, and the last one was in 1996.
Russian Viktoria Komova is currently in first place. She finished second to Wieber in the all-around at the world championships.
Wieber remains in contention for two gold medals. Along with the team competition, she also qualified for the floor exercise final. Ironically, it is one of the events that caused her to lose her all-around opportunity.
McKayla Maroney qualified for the vault final; Gabrielle Douglas will compete in the uneven bars final. Wieber will be joined by Raisman in the floor exercise final, and Raisman, Douglas, and Kyla Ross will compete in the balance beam final. They take place later in the week.
Worth noting is the performance of the surprisingly strong British team. Members thrilled fans with their inspired execution, particularly team leader Tweddle who also qualified for all-around competition on Tuesday. Exuberant fans screamed and cheered as if at a Justin Bieber concert.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She writes on professional cycling and covers the Sweet Science for Communities, along with other news in the sports world. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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hours ago | U.S. gymnast Alexandra Raisman, left, reacts after qualifying for the women’s all-around final along with teammate Gabrielle Douglas during the Artistic Gymnastics women’s qualification at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 29, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
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