Two days after leading the U.S. to its second Olympic women's team gold in history, Gabrielle Douglas continued her amazing run in London by winning the all-around title. "The Flying Squirrel" led after all four rotations to defeat top-seed Viktoria Komova of Russia, 62.232-61.973.
Douglas posted the top marks of the meet on vault (15.966) and balance beam (15.500) and performed all four events with focus and polish. Komova, on the other hand, opened her day with an Amanar vault that was marred by large steps off the side of the landing mat. She immediately fell 0.50 behind Douglas but closed the gap with an impeccable uneven bars routine (15.966). Both gymnasts hit solid beam sets, but Douglas had amassed a comfortable lead with only floor exercise remaining.
After Douglas completed her floor routine without incident, Komova anchored the event with perhaps her strongest performance ever on the event, finishing with a stuck double pike and showing exquisite dance and expression. But her 15.100 was not enough to take over first place, and the result left her in tears.
Douglas, meanwhile, couldn't stop smiling.
"I definitely had this amazing feeling," said Douglas, the third American in a row to win the Olympic all-around (Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin). "I just told myself, 'Believe — don't fear — just believe.' I didn't really think about making mistakes. I just wanted to represent everyone, not just myself — Team USA, coaches, family. I wanted to show my best routines and just enjoy the moment."
Russia's Aliya Mustafina won the bronze via a tie-breaker with American Alexandra Raisman. Both had problems on beam (Mustafina fell on a standing Arabian; Raisman nearly fell after a front pike, a mistake that seemed to lead to several more wobbles), and Raisman left out her punch front layout after her Arabian double front on floor. Both totaled 59.566, but Mustafina's highest three-score total (45.933) gave her the bronze.
"I'm really happy for Gabby," Raisman said. "She's been working really hard so I'm really excited for her, but it's definitely really frustrating because we (Mustafina and I) tied for third place. I was so close, but being fourth in the world is definitely something to be proud of."
Romania's Sandra Izbasa was steady throughout to place fifth (58.833), ahead of China's Deng Linlin (58.399).
Pre-meet medal favorite Larisa Iordache (Romania) was not at full strength, watering down her floor tumbling for an eventual ninth-place finish.
But this day belonged to Douglas, who less than a year ago could barely get through a complete routine in her first senior nationals. That's when her coaches, Liang Chow and Liwen Zhuang, focused on her mental approach while honing her immense athletic abilities. It was an up-and-down battle, but in London, everything came together for the 16-year-old from Virginia Beach.
"She is a very graceful gymnast and also she has the strength and determination," said Chow, who also coached Shawn Johnson. "I am totally beside myself. I think it was a wonderful night, and for me as a coach, that was a wonderful dream come true — to have an Olympic champion."
Even Marta Karolyi, the hard-to-please U.S. women's national team coordinator, was impressed.
"I have never seen an average but good gymnast five months ago climb up to be the best in the world," she said. "That's the truth."
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