Tuesday 31 July 2012

Team Tuesday

Golden Girls

 Today was the Women's Team Final and the first gold medal in the Olympic gymnastics competition was awarded. Who was it awarded to? Team USA of course!

The USA girls were the easily the favourites going into this competition. They dominated in qualifying, posting a team score of 181.863 which was 1.434 ahead of their biggest rivals, Russia. None of the teams had had a completely clean competition in qualifying though so there was plenty of tension as the competition got underway.

With the amazing vault scores that had been posted by the girls yesterday it would have been easy to think that they would not be able to improve on that. Jordyn Wieber was up first and looking ready to prove a point after missing out on qualifying for the all around final. Her vault was amazing and scored a whole tenth more than her qualifying vault. She had indeed proved her point that she was here for the team no matter what. Gabby Douglas was next with yet another fantastic Amanar vault and again improved her qualifying score, by 0.066. Then it was the turn of vault specialist McKayla Maroney. Both of the previous two girls had posted a higher score than she managed yesterday, could she really improve on what had gone before? She is not known as a vault specialist for nothing though. McKayla Maroney vaulted the most spectacular Amanar vault I have ever seen, ridiculously high, beautifully clean and perfectly landed. As a result she was awarded a simply unheard of 9.733 execution score to giver her a total of 16.233 - the highest score of the whole competition so far. The USA were off to a great start.

Uneven Bars
Known as the USA's weakest apparatus, this could be a case of make it or break it for the USA girls. Yet again Jordyn Wieber was up first on a piece that is known for giving her more problems than any other. A slight falter near the beginning of the routine had me holding my breath but she kept it under control, performed brilliantly and hit another amazing full twisting double straight dismount to post a good starting score of 14.666 for the team, just a couple of tenths less than her qualifying score. Then it was the team debut for Kyla Ross. Kyla is known as a good bars worker and she lived up to that today with a lovely clean routine, bettering her qualification score by posting a great 14.933. Up next was 'The Flying Squirrel' Gabby Douglas - and boy did she live up to that name today! She soared through her routine with her trademark high releases and clean execution to post a 15.200. Not bad scores for the team's weakest apparatus!

Balance Beam
Kyla Ross was up first and yet again proved to be an asset to the team with a clean and beautifully performed routine. Her leaps and acrobatic skills were sky high, her connections were made easily, she was absolutely rock solid on virtually every landing and practically nailed her dismount. She improved on her score in qualification to post a 15.133. She really is a beautiful gymnast to watch. Next was Gabby Douglas and this was where everyone was holding their breath - if there is one apparatus on which Gabby is likely to falter, it is beam. Many people were surprised that she had been put up on this apparatus given her inconsistencies but she proved to everyone that the right choice had been made by giving one of the most solid routines I have ever seen her perform to score 15.233. Aly Raisman was last up and did her job as the 'rock' of the team. She performed well on her first piece of the team final to score 14.933, just slightly lower than her qualifying score.

Floor Exercise
Floor was the last piece of apparatus for the USA and by this point they knew that they only really had to stand their tumbling up to take the Gold medal. But just as they did in the 2011 World Championships, when they were in a similar situation, they went for everything. Gabby Douglas was up first and managed to put the mistakes of qualifying behind her to give a fantastic performance. You could tell that she was loving every minute of the routine and it was fabulous to watch. Her score of 15.066 was a big improvement from the mistakes in qualifying. Up next was Jordyn Wieber who gave a performance that brought a tear to my eye. It was a performance worthy of a champion and showed just how much of a strong character and a team player she is to put the disappointment of qualification behind her and compete at her absolute best. It was one of the best floor performances I have seen from Jordyn and her smile throughout was infectious. She enjoyed every minute of that routine and so did I. She posted a much improved score from qualifying of 15.000 which was well deserved. Aly Raisman was last up to give the final performance for USA's team competition. She needed little more than a 10.000 for the team to take the Gold but she put her whole heart into that floor routine. You could tell that she was barely able to conceal her emotions from the beginning, her grin showing through at the start and still present after her first two good landings. Quite how she got through the routine I will never know, and her reaction when she landed her final tumble had me in tears and probably will every time I watch it. The relief, delight and sheer emotion came through and her tears were evident the second she landed her final tumble, before her routine had quite finished. She did of course get not only the score that was needed but more - an amazing 15.300.

USA - Olympic Champions. I have to say they thoroughly deserved it. There was not a single mistake from any of them, despite the pressure of coming in as the favourites. Others faltered around them, but they kept their nerve and even without the errors from the other teams I highly doubt anybody else could have beaten them. They have put in so much preparation and their mental strength and focus really is second to none. They took the title with an amazing score of 183.596 - over 5 whole marks higher than 2nd place Russia. The sheer delight and emotion from all five of the girls showed exactly how much this meant to them and I am thoroughly delighted that they have achieved their goal, their ambition and their dream.

For full results of the team final click here: http://www.london2012.com/gymnastics-artistic/event/women-team/phase=gaw400100/doc=results.html

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