Gymnastics: Aly's turn to have the floor

Raisman wins gold on 'best routine' to steal top billing for US team
2012-08-08T00:00:00Z 2012-10-02T15:02:13Z Gymnastics: Aly's turn to have the floorDiane Pucin Los Angeles Times Arizona Daily Star
August 08, 2012 12:00 am  • 

LONDON - The finish to Aly Raisman's Olympics was so much more fabulous than the start.

Raisman, who was often overlooked on this U.S. women's gymnastics team, did something no American woman has ever done. She won the Olympic gold medal in the floor exercise with a 15.6.

When Romanian Sandra Izbasa, the reigning Olympic floor champion, landed her last tumbling pass on her head and shoulder Tuesday, Raisman could finally smile.

"It was the best floor routine I've ever done," said Raisman, 18, who scored a 15.6. "My coach said it was the best routine he'd ever seen me do."

Earlier in the day, she won a bronze medal on the balance beam after her coach protested her initial low score of 14.966. Raisman endured an agonizing wait until judges watched a replay of her routine and gave her credit for completing difficult skills. Her new score of 15.066 put Raisman into a third-place tie with Romanian Catalina Ponor, and Raisman won the tiebreak.

Last week, Raisman tied Aliya Mustafina for the all-around bronze but finished fourth after the tiebreak procedure didn't go her way.

Bouyed by the beam outcome, Raisman threw herself into her floor routine with confidence, earning the highest marks for difficulty (6.5) and execution (9.1).

She proudly used the Jewish folk song "Hava Nagila," as her floor music, but the Needham, Mass., resident didn't intentionally choose it as a tribute to the Israeli athletes killed at the Munich Games 40 years ago.

"But having that music makes this very special to me," she said. "If there had been a minute of silence, I would have participated."

Raisman's participation in the all-around came at the expense of Jordyn Wieber, the reigning world champ who had finished fourth overall in qualifying behind Raisman and eventual winner Gabby Douglas.

Since only two women per country are allowed to compete in the 24-woman final, Wieber was left crying. She was teary-eyed again Tuesday after leaving the Olympics without an individual medal. Wieber was seventh on the floor after stepping out of bounds early.

Afterward, she revealed she has been competing in the Games with a stress fracture in her lower right leg. But Wieber wouldn't even mention pain - "I'm fine," she said - and helped the U.S. win the team gold for the second time in history with clutch routines.

Douglas, 16, who became the first American to win both team and all-around gold at the same Olympics, seemed worn out by the attention that came her way. She almost fell off the beam and finished seventh.

"It's OK," Douglas said. "This has still been great."

China won two of the other three gold medals handed out on the final day of competition. Deng Linlin was triumphant on the beam and Feng Zhe won parallel bars. In the floor, Ponor took silver and Mustafina bronze.

The U.S. men struggled. All-around bronze medalist Danell Leyva finished fifth and Jonathan Horton was sixth on the horizontal bar.

Local athletes IN London

Today

• 2:45 a.m.: 5,000-meter prelims, Bernard Lagat, USA

• 12:45 p.m.: 400 hurdles final, Georganne Moline, USA

• 2:15 p.m.: Basketball, Andre Iguodala, USA

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