When this year's Olympic Games began, you'd have been hard-pressed to find anyone who would have predicted Aly Raisman, the 18-year-old team captain of the US Women's Gymnastics Team, to take home more medals than any of her teammates. After playing the underdog all week to teammate Gabby Douglas, however, Raisman earned medals in both the floor and balance beam event finals, increasing her grand total to three.
Tuesday morning, Raisman watched as all-around gold medalist Douglas faltered on her beam routine, saving herself from falling to the mat only by wrapping her legs and arms around the apparatus. It must have been a tough view to stomach for Raisman after her own balance difficulties in the event during last Tuesday's all-around competition. But when Raisman took to the beam last in the rotation, it was with a steely confidence and a steady step. Her impressive routine seemed marred only by a balance check that broke the flow of one of her difficult combinations.
When a seemingly low score of 14.946 appeared onscreen, edging her out of bronze by 0.120 points, the crowd erupted in hearty dissent. Raisman's coach, Mihai Brestyan, promptly strode to the judges and filed a request for a review of her difficulty score.
Raisman's hands rested on her heart as she awaited the verdict. When the score flashed, the crowd split with cheers and jeers to see that she had been awarded exactly 0.120 to tie Romanian Catalina Ponor's third place score.
In a swoop of either irony or karma, the same tie-breaking rules that caused Raisman to lose the all-around bronze to Aliya Mustafina had now come around to assure her bronze in the beam.
As much as that bronze may not have been predicted for Raisman, the gold she earned only an hour later on the floor exercise was possibly the one instance in London's gymnastics events where predictions came true.
To the upbeat clap-along melody of "Hava Nagila," Raisman leapt and tumbled through all of her passes solidly clean to earn a massive 15.6 -- a score unparalleled in this year's Games. She had only to wait for the final five gymnasts to perform their routines to see if her top score would stand.
Sandra Izbasa of Romania was a particular worry, as she had been the only one to challenge Raisman's scores on the floor in both the qualifiers and the all-around competitions. Izbasa, last in the turn rotation, landed nearly on her head on her last tumbling pass. Finally, after two contentious bronze medal tiebreakers, Raisman could celebrate a runaway individual victory.
Raisman is the first US female gymnast to win gold in the floor exercise, and joins Gabby Douglas and Shannon Miller as only the third to win two gold medals in a single Olympics.
Christiana Ponor finished in the silver position a whopping 0.4 points behind Raisman, while Russia's Aliya Mustafina bested another tiebreaker to take bronze. Raisman's teammate Jordyn Wieber finished seventh after a stumbled landing led her to step out of bounds.
Want an easy way to know which Olympics events are airing when, and on which channel? The BuddyTV Guide app's new "2012 Olympics" listings puts all the events, organized by your airtimes and channels, in the palm of your hand.Jennifer BarbeeContributing Writer(Image courtesy of NBC)