Sunday 12 August 2012

Sunday Surprise

The end of an era

My main surprise today has to be that the London 2012 Olympic Games are already over. Has it really been just over two weeks since we were watching the opening ceremony and speculating about the competition ahead? And could any of us have possibly predicted some of the outcomes? Today I just want to take some time to reflect on the competition that has had us enthralled over the past two weeks and some of the surprises it has brought us, good and bad.

Although the Brazilian team had had many problems coming into the games, including losing a star member of the team due to sponsorship issues, and last minute injuries, there were still two very experienced members of the team who were expected to impress. Daiane dos Santos gave a good performance on floor, her best event, but unfortunately her score was not high enough to make it to the final. Daniele Hypolito, normally consistent all around had a dreadful qualifying competition and failed to make the all around final. Her best score of the day (on beam) was again not high enough to take her through to the final. The surprise for me therefore was not that Brazil finished last as a team but that Brazil was not represented in any of the finals. I feel this is a great shame as they have some excellent gymnasts in Brazil. I really hope that they come back strong and give a good account of themselves in the next Olympics, their home Games in Rio 2016.

Not only did the Canadian team make the Team Final for the first time, they performed amazingly well to finish a brilliant 5th place. Even with their team captain Peng Peng Lee out with injury, the five Canadian girls had a fantastic Games. They were represented by Dominique Pegg in the all around final and had two members of the team in the vault final. Canada are definitely on the way up!

Jordyn Wieber
I've said it before but I'll say it again - very few people could have imagined not only an all around final without Jordyn Wieber but the fact that she didn't take an individual medal at all throughout the Games. What did not surprise me is the way she conducted herself throughout. I wish her a speedy recovery from her suspected stress fracture and look forward to seeing her competing back at her best again when back to full health.

Yao Jinnan
I would not have thought, two weeks ago, that the 2011 World Championships Bronze medallist would be leaving without a medal at all. Even taking her thigh injury into consideration qualifying was a disaster for her, leaving her without a place in the all around final and only one event final on bars. The only really steady performances she gave throughout the Games were on this apparatus but even so it was not enough for her to take a medal, finishing in 4th.

Larisa Iordache
Romania's Golden Girl unfortunately proved to be anything but during these Olympic Games. She had shown such promise earlier in the year, posting a brilliant all around score at the 2012 European Championships and was considered by many to be a contender for the Gold medal. Injury was to play its part though and although she finished the all around competition in 9th place, fantastic by many others' standards, everyone knew she was capable of so much more. Her qualification scores were so poor for her that she did not make any of the event finals. Romania made the decision to substitute her in to the beam final but again she had a disastrous time, falling off the apparatus and finishing down in 6th. I hope she can put the disappointment and injury behind her and come back and show us exactly how good she is once more.

Asuka Teramoto
This Japanese gymnast really impressed me these Games. With more well-known team mates of Koko Tsurumi and Rie Tanaka very few people had seen anything of Asuka before these Games. What impressed me most about her was that she just got on with her routines so steadily throughout the Games. She did not respond to the pressure and posted consistently good scores throughout the whole competition. Definitely one to watch in the future.

Aliya Mustafina
For me the surprise here was not Aliya competing well. Since finding out she was definitely aiming for the London 2012 Olympics I never had any doubt that she would push herself to make sure that she made it. What surprised me is just how well she performed and how she raised her game throughout the competition. She went from strength to strength and by the end of the Games she was performing as well as she did in 2010 before her injury. She really is a phenomenal gymnast and a phenomenal person to find the strength to do what she has done. I was utterly delighted to hear that she will be continuing to train for Rio 2016.

McKayla Maroney
This really does have to be the biggest surprise of the whole Games. Who would ever have thought that McKayla would come away as the Silver medallist on vault? You could tell by the reaction of Sandra Izbasa when she realised she had won the Gold that it was as much of a shock to her as everyone else. McKayla has only ever sat down one other vault in the whole of her competitive career, back in 2009, and she seemed as shocked as the rest of us to find herself on the floor! I have no doubt that she will come back better than ever - and who knows, maybe we will be seeing a triple twisting Yurchenko soon . . .

Gabby Douglas
I admit it - I still was not convinced that Gabby could go through the whole competition cleanly without succumbing to the pressure. Although she had one slight mistake in qualifying on floor she hit every routine when it mattered, not just performing them solidly but performing them brilliantly. She really has shone throughout these Games and is a very worthy winner of the All Around Olympic Title.

It has been a truly amazing Olympic Games. There is still so much to think about and talk about, and I am looking forward to rewatching, reliving and sharing all the amazing moments of the London 2012 Olympics for many weeks to come!

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