Saturday, 11 August 2012

So Close Saturday

Fourth place finishes

Not doing as well as you had hoped to or finishing out of the medals is always going to be tough, but the people I feel for the most are those that finish in 4th. Knowing that you have only just missed out on being on the podium and taking a medal must be really hard. So today I would like to give a shout out to the efforts of those who finished in that dreaded 4th place in these London 2012 Olympic Games.

Team Final - China
Although many people had been writing China out of the medals this year, they came into the Games as the reigning Olympic Champions so will have had real hopes of getting a medal of some colour. In qualification they finished in 3rd which will surely have fuelled their medal hopes. On the day that mattered though it was not to be. The 3-up-3-count rule really affected the Chinese team who had to post some low scores after mistakes. With bars being their only really strong piece it was just not enough to pass Romania who had a much better day than in qualifying and posted good scores on three of the four pieces. Such a shame for the Chinese team who must be so disappointed to have dropped from 1st to 4th, but injury and inconsistency meant that they were unable to make it into the medals on this occasion.

All Around Final - Aly Raisman
Aly Raisman had caused shockwaves in qualifying by being the highest scoring American and therefore earning an unexpected place in the all around final. She was second only to Viktoria Komova in all around qualification so hopes must have been high, not just for Aly but throughout USA that they would be able to take two medals in this final. Aly certainly started well, posting higher scores on vault and bars than she did in qualification, finishing Rotation 1 in 2nd place, but after the excellent performance of the two Russians on bars she was in 4th by the end of Rotation 2. In Rotation 3 we saw what was really Aly Raisman's only weak performance of the whole Olympics, having some big wobbles and having to put her hands down on the beam on the middle of her routine. She was down in 5th after Rotation 3 but floor was next, Aly's strongest piece. She gave a fantastic floor performance and finished the competition with exactly the same score as Aliya Mustafina in third, but the tie break rules placed her in 4th (click here for my take on the tie-break rules). This must be by far the worst way to finish, knowing you got the same score as the gymnast who took the Bronze medal but ending up without a medal and down in 4th.

Vault Final - Janine Berger
The shock of this final was of course that McKayla Maroney sat down her second vault and only ended up with the Silver medal rather than the Gold. Sandra Izbasa was delighted to take the Gold and Maria Paseka took the Bronze. Germany's Janine Berger gave an excellent account of herself in this final though with two great vaults - maybe she has been watching the great Oksana Chusovitina! She scored a mere 0.034 less than Maria Paseka who took Bronze and I believe that she was capable of a medal with the vaults that she performed.

Bars Final - Yao Jinnan
Being a Brit I have to admit to being slightly biased and absolutely delighted that Beth Tweddle took the Bronze medal. I do feel sorry for Yao Jinnan who finished 4th though. Suffering a thigh injury she had an absolutely dreadful qualification with bars being the only apparatus she did not make a mistake on. This was therefore her only final and her only chance of a medal. She did perform her bars routine brilliantly on all three occasions throughout the Games, in qualification, the team final and the apparatus final but it was not to be on this occasion, finishing in 4th and leaving without a medal at all.

Beam Final - Catalina Ponor
This was another final where the 4th place gymnast had good reason to feel upset with the result. Aly Raisman was the last gymnast up on beam and when she finished her routine she was placed 4th, not affecting the top three of Deng Linlin, Sui Lu and Catalina Ponor. However, an inquiry was put in about her difficulty score. The inquiry was accepted and her score was increased putting her in joint 3rd. The tie-break rules came into effect once more and it was Aly Raisman who was successful on this occasion. It must have been absolutely awful for Catalina Ponor. Not only had the initial results put her in the Bronze medal position, she ended up losing that medal through an inquiry and a tie-break. I am sure that she herself would agree that her routine was not as perfect as we have seen it previously but it was such a shame that she ended up without a medal in this way.

Floor Final - Vanessa Ferrari
The last final of the London 2012 Olympic Games and another tie-breaker to decide who would get the Bronze medal and who would end up down in 4th. In this case, Aliya Mustafina won the tie and took Bronze leaving Italy's Vanessa Ferrari without a medal. Vanessa Ferrari is an excellent floor worker and a Bronze medal here would have been Italy's first and only women's gymnastics medal of these Games and only the second medal to be taken by someone not part of the top four teams (the only other one was GB's Beth Tweddle on bars). Such a shame that even when a gymnast not from one of the top nations makes a final and scores high enough for a medal they end up coming away without one.

All 98 of the gymnasts who competed at the London 2012 Olympics have every reason to be proud of themselves whether they did manage to take a medal or not, and I sincerely hope that those who finished in 4th place and just outside of the medals can look back and be proud of what they did achieve.

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