Monday 16 July 2012

Magic Moments Monday

Wieber Fever

There are many moments over the past few years that that have stood out for me when watching Jordyn Wieber, but perhaps the most magic of all was when she first became National Champion in 2011.

The 2011 Visa National Championships was the first American competition that I watched in its entirety. Having not seen much American gymnastics at that time, there were very few names that I recognised: Shawn Johnson, Rebecca Bross, Alicia Sacramone and Chellsie Memmel were the only gymnasts taking part that I knew of. At the beginning of the programme, one of the commentators announced that first year senior Jordyn Wieber was the favourite to take the title. I remember being somewhat sceptical that a first year senior would be able to beat such well-established all around gymnasts such as Rebecca Bross who was the defending National Champion and World Championships Bronze medallist.

Jordyn started her competition on Day 1 on the beam. Although it was easy to see that the skills were there, she was clearly nervous and wobbles crept into this difficult routine. The next event for Jordyn was of course floor. I watched her floor routine and instantly fell in love with this amazing gymnast. Not only was the routine incredibly difficult, but she performed and sold the routine so well. I did, and still do, absolutely adore this routine. It allows her personality to come shining through and she always looks like she is thoroughly enjoying herself. After this performance, I could not wait to see her vault. I was not disappointed. Jordyn was one of only two girls to perform the Amanar vault at the 2011 Visa Championships and she performed it brilliantly. Her score after the vault took her from 4th place all around to 1st with only bars left to go. Her bars routine was certainly not perfect and I was on the edge of my seat as I watched her struggle through the early part of the routine. She had gone into the last rotation with a 2 point lead and I breathed a sigh of relief as she landed the very tricky double twisting double back dismount. The form errors cost her, but it was still enough to finish Day 1 with a lead of 1.850 over 2nd place Aly Raisman.

With almost a 2 point lead going into Day 2 of the National Championships, I was desperately hoping that Jordyn would be able to live up to the expectations and take the title of National Champion. She was starting on floor, and after enjoying her routine so much on Day 1 I was worried that it would not live up to my expectations when I saw it again. Fortunately I was proved wrong - not only did it live up to my expectations, it exceeded them. The music, the choreography and Jordyn's personality and smiles all came together to make another fantastic routine. Then it was on to vault and yet another brilliant Amanar. Still in 1st place with only two pieces to go, they were the two pieces she had struggled on the most on Day 1. I was so nervous for her as she started her bars routine, but I need not have been. She gave an incredible performance with none of the faltering she had shown on Day 1. Now there was only one piece left to go: beam. By this point Jordyn had already practically sealed the victory and could probably have won even with a fall, but she went out and performed one of the most solid beam routines I have ever seen. The nerves of Day 1 had vanished and here was a champion at work. She finished her competition in the most amazing way.

On Day 2 Jordyn not only increased her score on every apparatus from Day 1, she scored 15.000 or over for every routine. She won the 2011 Visa National Championships by a staggering 6.150 over second place McKayla Maroney and all in her first year as a senior. She also took medals on all three of the apparatus she was eligible for, winning Gold on bars and floor and bronze on beam.

Jordyn went on later that year to become the all around World Champion at the 2011 World Championships. She also posted the highest team score on all four pieces of apparatus to help the team win Gold and took a Bronze medal in the apparatus finals on beam. In 2012 she successfully defended her National title to become the 2012 National Champion then weeks later was (unsurprisingly) selected to the USA Olympic Team.

Jordyn has achieved an incredible amount over the last two years but to me, the 2011 Visa Championships, where I saw her compete for the first time, will always be special. I have absolutely no doubt that she will go on to even greater things and I would like to wish her every luck for the London 2012 Olympic Games.


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