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Gymnastics

Aly Raisman wins gold in floor exercise, bronze in beam

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff August 7, 2012 10:35 AM

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Aly Raisman won the gold medal in the floor exercise over silver medalist Catalina Ponor of Romania (right) and Aliya Mustafina of Russia (left).

LONDON -- Versatile and unassuming, and said to feature more steadiness than flash in her repertoire, Aly Raisman ceded much of the attention to teammates Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber in advance of the Summer Games.

But after her two-medal performance Tuesday in the final day of gymnastics competition here, she departs knowing that in the end, the floor belonged to her.

300raismanfloor.jpgRaisman, a Needham native who'd be wise to set aside some time for a parade in her hometown, became the first United States woman ever to win the floor exercise at the Olympics, upping her degree of difficulty and nailing her routine to score a 15.6 and easily top silver medalist Catalina Ponor of Romania (15.2). Russia's Aliya Mustafina took the bronze (14.9). Wieber was seventh.

"It was the best routine I've ever done," Raisman said. "My coach [Mihai Brestyan] said it was the best routine he'd ever seen me do."

The floor exercise is Raisman's strongest event, and she won it in confident fashion, executing a version of her routine with a high (6.5) degree of difficulty and earning a 9.1 on execution, a very high score. She went for it, and it paid off.

What was somewhat unexpected was her bronze medal not much more than an hour earlier in the balance beam, which came after winning an appeal with the judges and then a tiebreaker with Ponor.

"Today has been a dream come true,'' said Raisman. "I'm so glad I got the medal I wanted."

Overall, Raisman won three medals in London -- she also anchored the United States's team gold, it's first since 1996. The US women won five medals overall, their lowest total since 2000. They collected eight in Beijing, six in Athens.

The circumstances with the balance beam were remarkably similar to the outcome of the women's all-around, when Raisman finished tied for the third-best score with Mustafina but lost out on a medal because of a tiebreaker.

The difference, of course, is that this time the tiebreaker worked in Raisman's favor.

After the inquiry, Raisman's degree of difficulty score was boosted 0.120, changing her score from 14.946 to 15.066, equaling Ponor. Raisman was awarded the medal because her execution score (8.766) was higher than Ponor's (8.466), which was the tiebreaker.

China went 1-2 atop the podium, with Deng Linlin getting gold (15.600) and Sui Lu the silver (15.50).

All-around champion Douglas fell during her routine, catching herself on the beam with her leg and pulling herself back up. She was seventh (13.633).

Despite a smooth routine with just one wobble, a hop on a dismount, Raisman's initial score of 14.946 put her a fraction of a point behind Ponor and apparently off the podium.

As the crowd booed, seemingly recognizing that she had been misjudged, her coach, Mihai Brestyan, filed an immediate appeal, requesting a review of her score.

When her new score was announced,the crowd roared. It wouldn't be the last time Tuesday they would do so for Raisman.

Live updates: Aly Raisman wins gold in floor exercise

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff August 7, 2012 09:39 AM

LONDON -- Needham's Aly Raisman has won the gold in the floor exercise, bringing the gymnast's medal count to two Tuesday and three overall at the London Games.

She is the first US gymnast ever to win the event.

Raisman finished with a score of 15.9, easily topping silver medal winning Catalina Ponor of Romania (15.2) and bronze medalist Aliya Mustafina of Russia (14.9)

Earlier Tuesday, Raisman won a bronze medal in the beam, winning an appeal and then a tiebreaker with Ponor.

She previously won a gold medal in the team competition.

12:09: Aliya Mustafina also scores 14.900. Raisman is assured of silver as the last competitor, Romania's Sandra Raluca Izbasa, begins her routine.

12:02:Ferrari gets a 14.9, so Raisman is assured of a medal with two gymnasts left to go.

11:59: Italy's Vanessa Ferrari is up next. Unless she can score above 15.600, Raisman is assured of a medal.

11:45: Looks like Aly Raisman has an excellent shot at a second medal Tuesday and third during these Games. She earns a 15.6 on her floor exercise routine, earning huge cheers from the crowd at North Greenwich Arena. Her teammate, Jordyn Wieber, struggled in her routine preceding Raisman, earning a 14.5 score with a 0.1 deduction for stepping out of bounds.

After a lengthy wait while Wieber's score was posted, Raisman went with the more difficult version (6.5) of her routine which included a layout and earned a score that figured to put her on the podium, possibly on the top position.

11:40: The floor exercise is underway. Raisman is trying to make history in theevent, where the Americans never have won gold, although Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin finished second and third in the event in Beijing

Floor is her best event -- Raisman finished third there at last year's world championships behind Russia's Kseniia Afanaseva and China's Sui Lu. And with Sui failing to qualify and Afanaseva having fallen on her face during the team final, Raisman's chances of winning seem strong.

Afanaseva will lead off, followed by Jordyn Wieber and Raisman, with Romania's Catalina Ponor, the Athens champion, following and teammate Sandra Izbasa, the Beijing titlist, coming up last.

* * *

11:23: Dutch gymnast Epke Zonderland pulled off a huge upset on the horizontal bar, knocking off Chinese defending Olympic and world champion Zou Kai to become his country's first medalist in Games history.

Germany's Fabian Hambuchen, the 2008 bronze medalist, upgraded to silver ahead of Zou.The American men ended up without an apparatus medal for the first time since 2000 as Danell Leyva and Jonathan Horton, the Beijing runner-up, placed fifth and sixth.

Back with the women's floor exercise momentarily where Raisman will go for her second medal of the day.

* * *

In the end and on the beam, it really did all balance out for Aly Raisman.

The Needham native won the bronze medal in the women's balance beam Tuesday when her initial score was adjusted after an inquiry, and she then won a tiebreaker with Romania's Catalina Ponor.

300raismanbronze.jpgThe situation was remarkably similar to the outcome of the women's all-around, when Raisman finished tied for the third-best score with Russia's Aliya Mustafina but lost out on a medal because of a tiebreaker.

The difference, of course, is that this time the tiebreaker worked in Raisman's favor.

After the inquiry, Raisman's degree of difficulty score was boosted 0.120, changing her score from 14.946 to 15.066, equaling Ponor. Raisman was awarded the medal because her execution score (8.766) was higher than Ponor's (8.466), which was the tiebreaker.

China went 1-2 atop the podium, with Deng Linlin getting gold (15.600) and Sui Lu the silver (15.50).

All-around champion Gabby Douglas fell during her routine, catching herself on the beam with her leg and pulling herself back up. She was seventh (13.633).

Despite a smooth routine with just one wobble, a hop on a dismount, Raisman's initial score of 14.946 put her a fraction of a point behind Ponor and apparently off the podium.

As the crowd booed, seemingly recognizing that she had been misjudged, her coach, Mihai Brestyan,, filed an immediate appeal, requesting a review of her score.

When her new score was announced,the crowd roared.

The medal is Raisman's second in London, having been the anchor during a gold-medal performance in the team victory.

10:31: Raisman wins the bronze. The judges adjust her score in degree of difficulty after an inquiry, and she wins a tiebreaker with Romania's Catalina Ponor.

Despite a solid routine with just one wobble, Raisman finished fourth behind the two Chinese and one-tenth of a point behind Ponor. Her coach, Mihai Brestyanm filed an appeal, however, requesting a review of her score. If her placement stood, it would be the second fourth-place finish for the Needham, Mass. native, who also missed the stand in the all-around.

After reviewing Raisman's routine, the judges awarded her third place on a tiebreaker ahead of Ponor. It was a reversal of the all-around, where Raisman finished behind Russia's Aliya Mustafina on a tiebreaker,

10:24: She won't. Despite what looked like a smooth routine other than a hop on the landing, Aly Raisman ends up with a 14.900, which is good for fourth at the moment. Raisman's coach is filing an inquiry.

If it stands, China's Deng Linlin gets gold (15.600), China's Sui Lu the silver, and Romania's Catalina Ponor takes the bronze. Stay tuned.

10:24: Smooth routine for Raisman, save for a hop at the end. She's staring down the scoreboard. Will she medal?

10:18: Russia's Victoria Komova falls twice -- 13.100. It's Deng, Su, and Ponor in the top three right now, with the beam taking its toll. With Komova coming off the beam and then falling on her backside, Raisman is well positioned for the podium, needing just a 15.067.

10:17: By the time Douglas got her turn, the new leader was Deng with a 15.600, with Sui in second. When Russia's Kseniia Afanaseva wobbled and then took a big step backwards on her dismount for a 14.583, the bronze, at least, was in play, But Douglas, who'd been last in Monday's uneven bars, had an unfortunate outing, losing her balance with her right leg at a 90-degree angle and then coming off the apparatus, hanging on from underneath. Her 13.633, which put her last, marked an unfortunate end to what had been a magnificent Games with team and all-around golds.

10:16: Douglas scores a 13.600. No third medal for the all-around champ. The door is open for Raisman.

10:12: Douglas falls on a split jump, catching herself with both hands and hooking her leg around the beam.

10:06: After three gymnasts, China's Deng Linlin leads with a 15.6, with teammate Sui Lui second at 15.5 and Romania's Catalina Ponor third (15.066). Douglas will be the fifth to go.

Sui, up first, set the benchmark. Then Ponor, the Athens victor who was plucked out of retirement to reinforce a young Romanian squad, had a rough re-entry, nearly falling twice and scoring a 15.066 that figured to keep her off the podium. When her teammate Larisa Iordache did fall and was hung with a 14.200, that opened the door for the Americans, who were 1-2 in Beijing with Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin.

9:53 a.m. The gymnasts competing in the balance beam are being introduced to the crowd. Raisman will go last.

* * *

LONDON -- The first event of the final day of gymnastics has just wrapped up here at North Greenwich Arena. As expected, Feng Zhe of China won the gold in men's parallel bars with a score of 15.966. Marcel Nguyen of Germany (15.800) took silver, while France's Hamilton Sabot (15.566) won the bronze.

China won the men's parallel bars event for the third time in four Games. Feng had the top score on difficulty (7.000) and had an 8.966 in execution.

The US, which hadn't won a medal since Jair Lynch's silver in 1996, had no representative after world champion Danell Leyva failed to qualify.

Next up is women's balance beam where the Chinese world champion Sui Lu was favored. With global bronze medalist Jordyn Wieber not making the final, the US hopes rode with all-around champion Gabrielle Douglas and Aly Raisman, who was fourth last year.

Douglas qualified third in the event, while Raisman was fifth.

Stay right here for further updates throughout today's remaining events.

Today at the Olympics: Men's hoop vs. Argentina, Douglas takes on uneven bars

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff August 6, 2012 07:24 AM

LONDON -- Welcome to Day 10 of competition, which is not shaping up as a big day for marquee events, though there's plenty going on, with medals being awarded in eight sports, including five in track and field.

Monday's must-see event: Last time it took the court, the United States men's basketball team played lethargically against Lithuania and didn't lead for good until there were less than six minutes to play before winning, 99-94. Monday night is its first time on the court since the near-upset, and the Americans will be playing Argentina, a team they defeated by just 6 points in a pre-Olympic tuneup in Barcelona. While the US is all but assured of clinching the top seed in its pool even with a loss in its final game before the medal round, it hardly looked invincible against Lithuania. And with a roster that includes Manu Ginobili (get ready for some referee-duping flopping) and Luis Scola, Argentina is equipped to put a scare into the US if the sluggishness continues.

Also worth watching: A lot, no matter what your interests. Individual all-around gold medalist Gabby Douglas competes in the women's uneven bars, one of three gymnastics medals that will be awarded, along with men's vault and rings. Hope Solo and the US women's soccer team take on Canada in the semifinals. At the track, the most compelling race could be the men's 400, which changed in tenor when favorite LeShawn Merritt, the gold medalist in Beijing, suffered a hamstring injury in the preliminaries and had to bow out.

Sunday's big story: How about we answer this one with a Local Newspaper Medley?

The Guardian:

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The Independent:

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The Sun:

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The Sun goes with the local angle -- Andy Murray's gold medal in men's singles tennis. The other two go with the most anticipated event of the London Games, the men's 100-meter race, which lived up to its billing and then some when Usain Bolt blazed a 9.63 to repeat as the gold medalist Sunday night. He sure knows how to rise to the occasion, doesn't he?

Tweet of the day: Big congrats to @HolleyMangold for her competition at the Olympics! As an older brother I couldn't be more proud! #TeamUSA -- Jets center Nick Mangold, who left training camp and flew to London to watch his sister compete in the weightlifting competition. She finished 10th in the 75-kg group Sunday.

Mind the gap, and stick around for further updates.

Tiebreaker scores push Aly Raisman to fourth in gymnastics all-around

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff August 2, 2012 02:11 PM

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Less than a point difference in tiebreaker scores was the difference between a bronze medal and a fourth-place finish for Needham's Aly Raisman in the women's gymnastics all-around event Thursday in London.

When two gymnasts tie in total score, which happened when Raisman and bronze medalist Aliya Mustafina both finished with 59.566, the tiebreaker is based on the sum of the execution and difficulty scores for each gymnast’s top three apparatus scores. By that measure, Mustafina had 45.933, Raisman 45.366.

"Of course it's a huge bummer, but I'm still fourth in the world, so that's something to be proud of," Raisman said. "It's also a bummer that they can't just let us both get a bronze medal, but I'm happy for the girls that are on the podium."

Raisman had scores in the 14s in bars and beam, so one had to count. Mustafina got to drop her 13.633 on beam and had a 16, 15 and 14 to Raisman’s 15, 15 and 14. Bars was the difference – it’s Raisman’s weakest event and Mustafina's best.

Mustafina finished first on bars, while Raisman tied for ninth. Raisman finished higher than Mustafina in each of the other three events.

"It is what it is," Raisman said. "I feel sad because I was so close to getting a medal but I'm still fourth in the world so I'm really proud about that."

Here's a breakdown of the scores by event for each gymnast, with their finish position in parentheses

VAULT
Raisman (2):
6.5 difficulty, 9.4 execution, 15.9 total
Mustafina (5): 5.8 difficulty, 9.433 execution, 15.233 total

UNEVEN BARS
Raisman (t9):
5.9 difficulty, 8.433 execution, 14.333 total
Mustafina (1): 7.0 difficulty, 9.1 execution, 16.1 total

BEAM
Raisman (10):
6.2 difficulty, 8.0 execution, 14.2 total
Mustafina (18): 6.1 difficulty, 7.533 execution, 13.633 total

FLOOR
Raisman (2):
6.3 difficulty, 8.833 execution, 15.133 total
Mustafina (6): 5.9 difficulty, 8.7 execution, 14.6 total

Video: Finn and Thurston on Raisman, Phelps, and Lochte

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff August 2, 2012 11:23 AM

The Globe's Chad Finn and Scott Thurston discuss swimming and gymnastics events, including athletes Aly Raisman, Michael Phelps, and Ryan Lochte.

Five questions with Shawn Johnson

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff August 2, 2012 10:47 AM

LONDON -- Shawn Johnson's fame has grown exponentially at least twice -- after she won four gymnastics medals in Beijing in 2008 (a gold in the balance beam and three silvers), and then to an entire different stratosphere a year later when she was the Season 8 champion on "Dancing With The Stars.''

Her popularity is easily understood. Even after a long day of interviews and appearances on behalf of sponsors including Procter and Gamble, Johnson couldn't have been more gracious during a conversation Wednesday night at the P&G House, an impossibly stylish and cool place for US athletes and their families to relax out of the public eye during the Olympics.

Here is some of what Johnson had to say, which includes high praise for Needham's Aly Raisman.

1. You have a unique perspective on the current Olympic team. For a time, you had serious thoughts of being one of them until your knee injury led you to retire again in June. I've heard you described as the big sister to the girls who are competing here, someone they go to for advice, insight, or maybe even sympathy. Has that been an easy adjustment, or is it a little bit surreal?

Johnson "Oh, it definitely has been surreal at times, but I like that sister role. I'm close to them because I was training with them for a while and I still feel very connected, especially sitting in the stands watching them compete. I know everything about them. I watch them practice, the ups and downs. I've been through it and I can help them and tell them I know what they're going through. Especially Jordyn [Wieber, the world champion who was devastated when she didn't make the women's individual all-around]. I sent her a message just telling her to be strong and to hang in there."

2. Knowing them like you do, you must be able to read their facial expressions and body language and know exactly what they are thinking.

Johnson: "Oh, yeah, totally. I definitely see things that other people don't. Anybody that trains together, you know each other inside and out, especially with Gabby [Douglas], I know her so well, the way she walks, the way she warms up. I know whether it's going to be a good one or not. I do think I have a good sense for what we'll see [from Douglas and Aly Raisman Thursday], but in our sport, you never know. But both Aly and Gabby are extremely strong competitors and they don't let anything get to them, as we've seen so far."

3. How much of it is mental? You have a couple of days to think about it, but just a couple of minutes to perform. It seems like that requires almost unfathomable mental discipline, even more so than the physical commitment.

Johnson: "I would say 99 percent of it is mental at this point. They've trained their bodies their entire lives. There's nothing more they can do other than think right, act right, and be in the right mindset. Over the last couple of days, getting ready for it, and I know this sounds funny, but the one thing they shouldn't do is think about it. Because then it just builds and you get the nerves going and the adrenalin. It needs to feel like just another practice to them.''

4. You've been on all the talk shows, Letterman, Oprah, been a presenter on awards shows, and of course, you won "Dancing With the Stars." What's the most fun thing you've been able to do away from gymnastics? Was it the most obvious one, or something else?

Johnson: "Yeah, it was 'Dancing With the Stars.' Winning was shocking to me. I just wanted to get through Week 1 and not be the first one to go. No one wants to be the first one gone. That was really, really fun, because it took me away from this world and I got to do something that was fun and different. It was a lot of training, like 12-hour days, but physically it wasn't close to as demanding as gymnastics. It was kind of a break."

5. You know Aly Raisman well and have often spoken fondly of her. Do you take pride in some way in what she's achieved in London so far?

Johnson: "Aly, I love that girl. She's one of the strongest girls I've ever met. I feel like she's gone unnoticed for a long time because the public eye has been on Gabby and Jordyn. She's just as strong, and she proved it, and she deserves this position. Side story, the other night brought me and my friend to tears at the stadium. As soon as the team competition was over and they knew the scores and celebrated, the girls were walking in and meeting their coaches for the first time and hugging, but Ali went right to Mihai [Brestyan, her coach] and put her medal on him. I started bawling. It's one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. Aly has a great heart."

US women roll to gold in gymnastics

Posted by Scott Thurston, Globe Staff July 31, 2012 01:32 PM

LONDON -- The US women's gymnastics team won its first gold medal at an overseas Games Tuesday evening, destroying the Russians by more than 5 points (183.596-178.530) as the Chinese defending champions finished fourth behind Romania. Needham native Aly Raisman capped off the triumph with a thunderous floor routine as the Americans won the title for the first time since the Magnificent 7 did it in Atlanta in 1996.

The Americans started off soaring in vault, their best event, led off by world champion Jordyn Wieber, who evidently had shaken off the disappointment of missing the all-around final, where she was favored for gold. Wieber stuck her landing and after Gabby Douglas did the same, McKayla Maroney, the global titlist on the apparatus, capped things off with a monster Amanar vault that earned her a 16.233 score.

That gave the US a comfortable cushion of 1.733 points over China heading into the uneven bars, its weakest event and where slippage was overall expected. It was a long wait for the Americans, who'd quickly completed their work on the vaulting strip and had to wait more than 40 minutes for the Russians to finish on bars before their moment came.

When it did, the US performed solidly with Wieber posting a 14.666, Kyla Ross 14.933 and Douglas 15.200. That kept the Americans ahead of the Russians but the gap had been narrowed to .399 going into beam, which figured to be the pivotal event where Raisman, who'd topped the US table in qualifying (second overall), was scheduled to make her first appearance.

After Ross (15.133), in her final event of the Games, and Douglas (15.233) both survived slight wobbles, up came Raisman, who had a lengthy wait for Douglas's score to be posted. Though the team captain has a couple of unsteady moments of her own, she earned a 14.933 mark. That increased the US lead to nearly 1.3 points over the Russians, who struggled with shaky performances from former world champion Aliya Mustafina (14.533) and Victoria Komova (15.033). The Chinese, who won gold in 2008, were out of contention after coming to grief on beam.

So they went to the floor, where the Americans saw their golden chances vanish in Beijing and where Wieber and Douglas both stepped out of bounds in qualifying. If they reined it in this time, Raisman, the world bronze medalist in the event, was expected to cap things off.

Five questions with Tim Daggett

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff July 31, 2012 10:49 AM

LONDON -- Checking in with the West Springfield native, 1984 Olympic gold medalist, and NBC commentator for his thoughts on the compelling twists during the gymnastics competitions so far as well as what might happen during Tuesday's women's team final:

1. A quick question on the men's team competition Monday before we look ahead to the women's team event Tuesday. How surprising was it to you to see the judges adjust the scores, which gave Japan a silver when initial scoring indicated it wouldn't be on the podium?

Daggett: It was surprising, but really what it comes down is that those are the rules. Every coach on the floor was prepared to file an inquiry and they can only do that if they believe the difficulty score is incorrect. When they saw what he got for a difficulty score, they filed an inquiry right away. That's not atypical. What is atypical is for it to be granted. It was really the worst-case scenario [with so much at stake, it the apparent gold-medal team's host country] because the meet was over. It was on the last guy in the meet's routine. The meet's over, it's on the scoreboard, I don't know, five minutes or whatever.

2. Aly Raisman is an accomplished gymnast, is the captain of this team, and yet she had been in the background compared to teammates Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber until she made the women's all-around. What can we expect from her Tuesday in the team competition and Thursday in the all-around?

Daggett: I think you can expect the exact same thing she did on the qualifying day. That is what Aly does over and over and over again. Aly Raisman is one of those athletes that has that innate ability to take every extraneous thought or crowd or television cameras and just put them out of her mind. She doesn't see them, hear them, smell them, anything. She just goes out and does her job. Really, it's a very unusual quality to the level that she's able to do this. I'd be very surprised if she wasn't able to perform well in everything she's in.

3. Does Jordyn Wieber have that attribute in common with her? Obviously she is coming off tremendous disappointment after failing to earn one of the two US spots in the all-around.

Daggett: You know, my guess is that she's going to come out like gangbusters. She's about as tough as they come as well. She's cut from the same cloth as Aly, absolutely fierce. I would call Aly calm and I would call Jordyn fierce. The pressure doesn't get to her, but that said, this is a very big thing to overcome. Because, let's face it, if you are a little girl gymnast who has the dream to go to the Olympic Games, you do what it takes to get there, which is amazingly long, hard training and an incredible amount of discipline to follow that dream of being the Olympic all-around champion. That's the crown jewel of the sport, and she doesn't get a chance to show that she can be competitive in that field. It's devastating, but my guess is that she's somehow going to find a way to put that behind her.

4. You mention Aly being calm and Jordyn being fierce. As someone who has been involved in the sport your entire life and knows first-hand what it takes mentally to win a gold medal on this stage, is one of those character traits better to have than the other under these incredibly pressurized circumstances?

Daggett: Well, I think they both have all of those qualities, but it's just a little more pronounced with the fierceness in Jordyn, but she is also able to be calm and poised like Aly is. That's my way of saying I'm not sure which one is better [laughs], but they both have those qualities, and they are both necessary.

5. All right, I'm going to put you on the spot. Does the US win its first team gold since the Magnificent 7 in 1996?

Daggett: It's really, really possible. Does that count? As we saw with the US men, they qualified in with the highest score and had some really disastrous performances, and that went away very, very quickly. If the US does what they are capable of doing, my guess is that they're going to be able to win this championship. But you cannot count out, ever, the Russians, the Romanians, and the Chinese as well.

Today at the Olympics: US gymnastics goes for gold, Phelps goes for history

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff July 31, 2012 04:48 AM

LONDON -- Zipping off for an early Carl Lewis press conference this morning
(pretty sure he's not coming back to challenge Usain Bolt, but you never know), so here's an abbreviated morning update as we enter Day 5 of competition. I'll pop back in later to beef this up in what should be the most memorable day of the summer games yet, with two huge events.

Tuesday's must-see event: Michael Phelps's official coronation as the winningest Olympian of all-time. Should Phelps medal in the 200-meter butterfly and 4x200 freestyle relay tonight -- and he should -- he will be the most decorated Olympian of all-time, with 19 medals, surpassing gymnast Larisa Latynina. These Olympics may have started slowly for Phelps when he failed to make the podium in his first race, the 400 individual medley. Tonight, he can reclaim his place in the spotlight, though he may end up sharing it with ...

Also worth watching: ... the United States women's gymnastics team. The team final would qualify for the Must-See Event designation on most any other day, and there's sure to be plenty of drama Tuesday. Led by captain Aly Raisman of Needham, the five-person squad was first after qualifying and is in an excellent position to win its first team gold since Kerri Strug and the storied Magnificent Seven of 1996. Raisman could play a significant role on how the US fares -- she is in the lineup during the final two disciplines, the balance beam and the floor exercise. Can't wait to see her parents' reaction tonight.

Tweet of the day: "heard @FranklinMissy is a fan of mine. now im a fan of hers too. CONGRATS on winning GOLD! #muchlove --- @justin bieber, after Missy Franklin's victory in the 100-meter backstroke Monday.

The 17-year-old swimmer's response:

@FranklinMissy: ” I just died! Thankyou!

Mind the gap, and we'll have a ton on the blog today, so stay right here for further updates.

US men stumble to fifth in team gymnastics

Posted by Scott Thurston, Globe Staff July 30, 2012 01:30 PM




The US men's gymnastics team, which had dreams of gold after topping the standings in the qualifying round, finished a disappointing fifth Monday night. With only the high bar to go, the Americans, who'd won bronze and silver at the last two Games, were buried in sixth place, nearly 10 points behind the Chinese. But a strong finish on the last rotation helped the men avoid their worst finish since 1992, when they were sixth in Barcelona.

The US came to grief on pommel horse, traditionally its weakest event, as its top two stars failed. Danell Leyva came off the apparatus and John Orozco broke his routine and ended up sitting atop the horse. Then Orozco splattered his landing on vault.

Great Britain was initially awarded the silver, and Ukraine the bronze. But Japan asked for a steward’s inquiry into the pommel horse and went from fourth to second. Britain ended up with the bronze.

Horton gets silver

Posted by Gregory Lee Jr. Globe Staff August 19, 2008 08:12 AM

Jonathan Horton (Houston, Texas) won the silver medal in the men's high bar in the gymnastics individual event finals held Tuesday evening at the National Indoor Stadium.

Horton scored a 16.175, only 0.025 behind the 16.200 scored by Zou Kai of China to take the gold. The bronze medal was won by Fabian Hambuechen of Germany with a 15.875.

The U.S. gymnastics team closes out the 2008 Olympic Games with a total of 10 medals won (two gold, six silver, 2 bronze), the four best medal haul at a single Olympic Games and the top total at an Olympic Games outside the United States. The most was 20 at the 1904 St. Louis Olympic Games, followed by the 16 each won at the 1932 and 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

U.S. finish 1-2

Posted by Gregory Lee Jr. Globe Staff August 19, 2008 07:27 AM

Shawn Johnson (West Des Moines, Iowa) and Nastia Liukin (Parker, Texas) won gold and silver, respectively, on the balance beam in individual event finals at the National Indoor Stadium today.

Johnson posted a score of 16.225 to take the gold, while Liukin claimed silver with a 16.025. The bronze medal was won by Cheng Fei of China with a 15.950.

Johnson's gold is the second in the event by an American, following Shannon Miller's at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. It marks the first time the U.S. has won two medals in the event.

Golden effort, silver medal for Liukin

Posted by John Powers, Globe Staff August 18, 2008 10:16 AM

BEIJING -- What was most troubling, Nastia Liukin said, was that she didn't lose -- and yet she still lost. "I'm a little disappointed, knowing that I tied," the US gymnast said Monday, after China's He Kexin won the Olympic gold medal on uneven bars on the second tiebreaker after they'd tied to the thousandth -- 16.725. "I had the same exact score. That's what made it a little harder to take."

Liukin said that she had no problem with the scoring system, which was revised two years ago after the Athens controversy surrounding her countryman Paul Hamm's victory in the men's all-around. "Scoring is scoring, and that's our sport," said the 18-year-old Liukin, after she'd
been given the silver medal in her best event based on her having a higher average deduction (.966 to .933) from the middle three judges. "That's what we've been going through our whole lives and we just have to accept that."

Nor did Liukin have a quibble with Australian judge Helen Colagiuri, who marked Liukin three-tenths of a point lower than He for a routine with the same start value (7.7) and similar execution. "One judge liked her better than me," Liukin shrugged.

Nor did it bother her that she lost to a tiny rival whom several Chinese sources have indicated is only 14, two years younger than the minimum age for Olympic competition. "It's been going around for so many days, weeks and months now," Liukin said. "She's an excellent athlete, no matter how old she is. She's done her hard work and preparation and she deserved the gold medal."

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Liukin gets silver

Posted by Gregory Lee Jr. Globe Staff August 18, 2008 09:01 AM

Nastia Liukin (Parker, Texas) won the silver medal in the uneven bars during the individual event finals Monday evening at the National Indoor Stadium.

The gold medal went to He Kexin of China, who was first in the rotation and posted a score of 16.725. Liukin followed and her score was also 16.725, but tiebreaking procedures placed her second. Yang Yilin of China won the bronze with a score of 16.650

USA 1-2

Posted by Gregory Lee Jr. Globe Staff August 15, 2008 01:27 AM

Nastia Liukin (Parker, Texas) and Shawn Johnson (West Des Moines, Iowa) used flawless floor exercise routines to claim gold and silver, respectively, in the women's individual all-around gymnastics competition at the National Indoor Stadium Friday afternoon.

Liukin and Johnson both scored a 15.525 on floor, giving Liukin the gold with a score of 63.325 and Johnson the silver with a 62.725. The bronze medal was won by Yang Yilin of China with a score of 62.650.

In addition to sharing the highest score on floor, the two Americans posted the highest value in two other events. Liukin's 16.125 on the balance beam was tops on that apparatus, while Johnson's 15.875 on vault was the best in that event.

Notes on the gold-silver finish by Nastia Liukin (Parker, Texas) and Shawn Johnson (West Des Moines, Iowa) in the women's gymnastics individual all-around competition:

Only the third time a nation has had a 1-2 finish in the event. Others were in 1960 (Larissa Latynina gold, Sofia Muratova silver for the Soviet Union) and 2000 (Simona Amanar gold, Maria Olaru silver for Romania).

First time the United States has had two women's gymnasts on the individual all-around medal podium.

First time the United States has won consecutive gold medals in the event (Liukin, 2008; Carly Patterson, 2004).

Third individual all-round gold medal won by the United States (Liukin, Patterson and Mary Lou Retton, 1984).

Second time the United States has won a silver in the event (Shannon Miller, 1992).

Men fall short

Posted by Gregory Lee Jr. Globe Staff August 14, 2008 02:57 AM

Jonathan Horton (Houston, Texas) and Alexander Artemev (Highlands Ranch, Colo.), finished ninth and 12th, respectively, in the men’s all-around gymnastics finals at the 2008 Olympic Games. China’s Yang Wei won the all-around title with a score of 94.575. Japan’s Kohei Uchimura earned the silver medal with a 91.975 and France’s Benoit Caranobe claimed the bronze medal with a 91.925. Horton earned a 91.575 and Artemev posted a 90.675.

US women get silver

Posted by Gregory Lee Jr. Globe Staff August 13, 2008 12:24 AM

The Chinese captured the team title with a dominating performance. They scored 188.900 points. They were first or second in the four categories.

The Americans finished at 186.525, but were done in by poor routines in the floor exercise and the uneven bars.

US women's team lineup

Posted by John Powers, Globe Staff August 12, 2008 11:41 AM

Winchester's Alicia Sacramone, the team captain, will be up on three of the four events when the US women's gymnastics team goes up against China for the gold medal on Wednesday. Sacramone will be up first on floor exercise and balance beam and third on vault. The lineup:

Vault -- Bridget Sloan, Shawn Johnson, Sacramone
Uneven bars -- Chellsie Memmel, Johnson, Nastia Liukin
Beam -- Sacramone, Liukin, Johnson
Floor -- Sacramone, Liukin, Johnson

US men get bronze

Posted by Gregory Lee Jr. Globe Staff August 12, 2008 01:35 AM

BEIJING -- The United States men's gymnastics team won the bronze medal in the team final held Tuesday at the National Indoor Stadium. Host China turned in a commanding performance, placing first in five of the six apparatus to score a 286.125, well ahead of Japan, which took the silver with a 278.875. The USA placed third with a 275.850, 1.25 ahead of Germany's 274.600.

The U.S. team is comprised of Alexander Artemev (Denver, Colo.), Raj Bhavsar (Houston, Texas), Joseph Hagerty (Rio Rancho, N.M.), Jonathan Horton (Houston, Texas), Justin Spring (Burke, Va.) and Kevin Tan (Fremont, Calif.).

US shaky in women's gymnastics qualifying

Posted by Shira Springer, Globe Staff August 10, 2008 05:48 AM

BEIJING -- From the moment the US women’s gymnastics team took the floor at the team qualifications today, something was clearly wrong. The normally confident gymnasts looked shaky with Winchester’s Alicia Sacramone and Bridget Sloan tumbling out of bounds. The absence of Samantha Peszek on floor was also an indication of something out of sorts. Peszek sprained her ankle moments before the competition started, rattling her teammates and prompting last-minute changes in the lineup.

“We had a little tension finishing the warmup,” said US national team coordinator Marta Karolyi. “It gave us a tiny bit of disturbance to rearrange the lineup.”

While the women looked solid on vault and Sacramone positioned herself well for the event finals, trouble started again on bars. Even specialist Chellsie Memmel fell off the top bar on a release move, while Nastia Liukin fell backward on her dismount. Again, they were uncharacteristic mistakes for a team expected to vye for gold with the Chinese. Remarkably, the Americans looked strongest on beam, saving their most solid routines for last. Shawn Johnson looked particularly steady and she finished tied with Liukin for the team’s top score on the event with a 15.975.

Overall, the US posted a cumulative score of 246.800, not far behind rival China with 248.275. China was also shaky in its qualifying session. The two countries will battle for top honors this Wednesday. Both teams hope they got past their jitters today. With three gymnasts competing on each event and all three scores counting toward the team total in the finals, neither country can afford major mistakes.

“We want to do our best,” said Karolyi. “If we are disappointed, it is because we made mistakes and not our ranking. If we do our stuff on three up, three count, it will be a different day. We will have a very good fight with the Chinese.”

US men in gymnastics final

Posted by Gregory Lee Jr. Globe Staff August 9, 2008 07:10 AM

BEIJING -- Despite the Hamm brothers dropping out of the men's gymnastics Olympic competition within the past two weeks, the United States team qualified for Tuesday's team final.

“To make a major team personnel change, compete in the first subdivision and qualify for the team finals is a huge accomplishment, and we are looking forward to competing on Tuesday,” said Kevin Mazeika, head coach for the U.S. Olympic Team

“We accomplished our first set of goals -- to go out and be consistent, and to qualify for team finals.”

“We will go through our usual process and review our performances in the prelims, and the coaches will meet to determine our line up for the 6-3-3 format in the finals.”

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