Monday 6 August 2012

Magic Moments Monday

Flying high

Today was the much anticipated uneven bars final, where everyone in Britain (and many people elsewhere in the world) were desperately hoping that Beth Tweddle could take her much longed for Olympic medal. Getting a medal would not be easy though, the final saw one of the strongest bars line ups we have seen for a long time:
He Kexin - 2008 Olympic bars champion
Viktoria Komova - reigning World & European bars champion
Elisabeth Seitz - 2012 World Cup Gold medallist on bars
Yao Jinnan - 2011 World Cup Gold medallist on bars
Beth Tweddle - two time World Champion on bars
Aliya Mustafina - 2010 Silver medallist on bars and 2010 all around World Champion
Koko Tsurumi - 2009 Silver medallist on bars
Gabby Douglas - National bars champion and Olympic all around champion

With such an amazing start list it was set to be a fantastic final and it certainly did not disappoint. I think what impressed me the most was that it was a well contested final with no falls from any of the gymnasts and only a couple of major errors. At the end of the day you knew that whoever came out with the Gold had truly earned it.

I think I was more nervous for this final than I have been for the rest of this Olympic Games put together! I was so desperate for Beth to not only perform well but to achieve the one medal she is missing from her collection - an Olympic medal. I could barely watch as she stepped up to the bars yet also I could not tear my eyes away. More than anything I just wanted her to go through her routine cleanly and be able to finish her third and final Olympics on a high note. I think I may have stopped breathing for the entire minute or so that Beth was on the bars, yet I need not have worried. She hit all of her connections beautifully and performed them cleanly. With only her dismount to go it had been a great routine, but on her new and very difficult double twisting double back dismount she had a couple of large steps back on landing. They were not enough to cause a major problem and she went into 2nd place, but it certainly kept us on the edge of our seats as the final gymnasts performed their routines. After an interminable wait the final score was posted and Beth had got the Bronze medal! Her wait was over and she had achieved her dream. Beth now has an Olympic medal to go with the many World, European and Commonwealth medals she already has to her name. It could not have been more deserved. Beth has been a true ambassador for gymnastics in Britain and has paved the way for many more future medals in the sport. To win an Olympic medal in front of a home crowd was a just reward.

There was also another gymnast I was watching very closely. Aliya Mustafina had done what many people believed to be impossible and returned to competitive gymnastics less than 18 months after suffering a torn ACL in her left knee. Not only that but she was showing signs of her former brilliance, taking the Bronze medal in the all around competition. I was delighted for this beautifully talented gymnast despite ruing the fact that if it were not for the injury she could have achieved so much more. Bars is her strongest event and I always knew that she could easily contend for the Gold medal. I also knew that if Beth did not take the Gold it was this gymnast who I would love to see succeed. And succeed she did. She hit an almost flawless bars routine, swinging through her difficult routine with ease and elegance. I really am delighted that she has an Olympic Gold medal, she thoroughly deserves it.

Although these two routines were the pure magic moments for me today, there were many other fantastic routines besides. With everybody going well it really was a final of the highest quality. He Kexin put in a fantastic performance to take the silver medal and Elisabeth Seitz wowed with a spectacular full twisting Gienger release. All eight finalists gave a worthy performance. For the full results of the bars final click here.

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