By Jueseppi B.
Gabrielle Douglas of the United States reacts after she completes the balance beam portion of the women’s gymnastics individual all-around final. (Streeter Lecka / Getty Images / August 2, 2012)
LONDON — Gabrielle Douglas, a 16-year-old from Virginia Beach, took the women’s gymnastics all-around lead on her first event, the vault, and never let it go Thursday.
Douglas earned her second Olympic gold medal and became the first African-American Olympics all-around gold medalist by performing with ferocious power, high-flying aerial tricks on the uneven bars, a smartly cautious balance beam display and, finally, a joyfully exuberant tumbling romp on the floor exercise mat.
The silver medal went to Russia’s Victoria Komova, who wept in disappointment.
Another Russian, Aliya Mustafina, and American Alexandra Raisman, had the same score, 59.566, but Mustafina won the bronze medal after a tiebreaking procedure was used. Raisman seemed stunned as she looked at the scoreboard.
The official tiebreak procedure is the total of the three best scores. Mustafina had 45.933 and Raisman 45.366.
Raisman, who had been in medal contention at the halfway point, knocked herself out with a low-scoring balance beam routine on the third rotation or there might not have been a need for a tiebreaker.
Douglas took a .326 lead into the final rotation, floor exercise, over Komova. Her power tumbling almost took her out of bounds once, but Douglas tip-toed her way inbounds.
When her score of 15.033 was posted, Douglas leaped into the arms of her coach, Liang Chow.
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The USA underlined their place at the top of worldgymnastics as Gabrielle Douglas took her country’s third consecutive women’s all-around gold, ahead of Russia’s Viktoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina. Britain’s Rebecca Tunney gave a fine display to finish 13th, but there was disappointment for Hannah Whelan, who finished last – her vault score was wiped when she fell face first on landing.
The four favourites – which included USA’s team captain, Aly Raisman – were in the same group, guaranteeing a nail-biting finish and the ghost in the room was Jordyn Wieber, the reigning world champion who was forced to watch from the sidelines despite a fantastic qualifying performance because of the limit of two finalists per nation.
The US duo came here on the back of a team gold won in ruthless style and were once again were niggardly with their errors here. Douglas top-scored on vault and put in a signature flying routine on bars to put her first place halfway round. She stayed ahead of Komova on beam, by just 0.3 of a point, and had the advantage of finishing on her best piece, the floor, where she bought her Olympic title with a score of 15.033 and an electric, crowd-pleasing show.
Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, was here to watch Komova, who had been the highest qualifier for the competition. She seemed miserable after her first piece, the vault, landing slightly askew and stepping off the mat with a grim expression. But she scored a huge 15.966 in bars, the apparatus in which she holds European and world titles, a display that will certainly give Beth Tweddle something to think about.
The British women began, for the third time this week, on the nerve-racking beam, but they had their most confident start yet, with Whelan – the European champion in this discipline – putting in an assured performance. Two floor routines, full of character, thoroughly earned the cheers of the home crowd and Tunney’s sprightly vaulting was another highlight.
Our Congratulations to Ms. Douglas and her entire family and support team, including trainers.
Raising an Olympian – GABBY DOUGLAS
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