The 2012 Olympic artistic gymnastics competition concluded today with the final apparatus finals for both men and women. High bar stole the show, with scores soaring higher and higher and … well, here's what happened in all four finals.
It did not take long for the gold and silver medals to be determined, but it took quite a while for the judges to decide on the bronze medalist. First up was world beam champion Sui Lu, who hit cold for a 15.500. The score was a tenth higher than her top-ranked qualifying score.
Her routine is smart, because she opens with a piked front, then walks/dances backward to the end, and then performs a front-half. The first skill serves as a warm-up for the second. (I'll get to my point later.) She scored a 9.0 in execution, which is sort of like the new 10.0 (except for on vault).
2004 Olympic beam champion Catalina Ponor was next and had some balance issues. Her double turn turned into a 2.5, but not without an obvious balance check. Everything was going smoothly until her Kochetkova (full-twisting back handspring) did not cooperate and she had to take extra steps to stay on. She gambled with a full-in dismount that came up a bit short, but she still completed it. She'll be 25 on Aug. 20. How many other 20-somethings are doing that trick?
Her 15.066 did not stay in second for long, because Deng Linlin edged her Chinese teammate by 0.10 in D-score (6.6) and scored a 9.0 herself in execution. Her best pass was two flip-flops to a layout followed by a back handspring-swingdown. It's a good thing she's tiny, because there was very little beam left to swing down on.
Romania's Larisa Iordache figured to jump past Ponor and maybe surpass the Chinese pair, but she fell on her first series, a flip-flop tucked full. Getting back to the point I brought up earlier, she barely had enough time to feel the beam under her feet in her first Olympic event final, and she's throwing her hardest trick.
Russia's Ksenia Afanasyeva lacked the difficulty to challenge for a medal, and Gabrielle Douglas fell on, and then off, the beam after a switch leap-half. But then again, the clock had already struck midnight for her after the all-around final. Two golds at your first Olympics isn't bad, though.
"I gave it my all today, but it wasn't my day to shine," she said.
Viktoria Komova could have grabbed a medal here, but she, too, came off, after a front somi. She's beautiful when she's on, but her high center of gravity is unforgiving on this event.
Aly Raisman seized the moment and hit the event that had hurt her all-around chances. It wasn't perfect, but just enough to tie Ponor. But it took a judges inquiry to have her D-score raised 0.10, and she won the bronze over Ponor based on her higher E-score (8.766). The same thing had happened to Raisman in the all-around.
This event was Raisman's to win or lose, and she finally landed her entire first pass (1.5 twist step-out, roundoff, flip-flop, Arabian double front, front layout), which is the hardest tumbling run being done today. All of her other landings were secure, and nobody came close to her 15.600, which had the highest E- (9.1) and D-scores (6.5).
Jordyn Wieber couldn't stay in bounds on her mount, but there was definitely a medal available for her today, even if the all-around would have been her best shot. Afanasyeva also couldn't stay in bounds.
Ponor, 2004 Olympic floor champion, hit a solid set with good landings to post a 15.200. She stuck her double layout mount and double pike dismount. What a comeback she's made.
Lauren Mitchell had the D-score (6.4) but her tumbling lacked amplitude and she sort of fell out of a jump turn.
With a relatively new trick up her sleeve (and her leotard had only one sleeve), Vanessa Ferrari opened with a full-in to standing back tuck. Everything else was clean and she posted a third-place 14.900 that was bumped to fourth in a tiebreaker when Aliya Mustafina matched it with a higher E-score (9.0). This seemed to be happening a lot this week for the bronze.
This set up 2008 Olympic floor champion Sandra Izbasa, who had drawn the final slot for the second time (vault, too). She was headed for a medal until her final pass turned into an exact replay of Rebecca Bross at the 2009 worlds in this very arena. It even happened in the same part of the floor mat. Her 2.5 twist to front-full turned into a barani to hands and knees. Ouch.
Raisman was on cloud nine afterward. "It feels amazing," Raisman said. "I have been working so hard, so to have it come true is so exciting. I have always dreamed of being the Olympic champion on floor,…"
Feng Zhe won the 2010 worlds on p-bars with a 15.966, and that score was good enough to win today, as well. Only this time he had 7.0 in D-score instead of 6.7.
All-around runner-up Marcel Nguyen won his second silver here, dismounting with the only full-twisting double in the field (15.80, 6.8).
After Zhang Chenglong opened the event with a fall on a peach-half, Hamilton Sabot hit well for a 15.566, despite bending his arms at the start of all of his peaches. His score held up for bronze.
Kazuhito Tanaka came closest at 15.50, and he even stuck his double pike. He might have deserved a medal, but with scores that close, it's hard to say. His younger brother, Yusuke, finished eighth.
This final had nine competitors because of a tie. And even though he did not medal, Mexico's Daniel Corral performed well for fifth.
It was a pity that high bar was not contested after women's floor exercise, because it would have been a thrilling end to the Olympic gymnastics competition.
Danell Leyva got things going with an excellent set (15.833), but his 7.2 D-score would prove well shy of the medalists.
Zhang followed with a 16.266 (7.7), and after Emin Garibov struggled with his Takemoto, 2008 Olympic champion Zou Kai edged Zhang by 0.10 (7.9 D-score).
Just when it was looking like a 1-2 Chinese finish, Fabian Hambuchen relied on a strong E-score to counter his 7.5 D-score and he surged to first with a 16.400. Surely, this would stay golden, right?
Epke Zonderland, who had paid his dues many times over, finally got his return here. He linked a Cassina-Kovacs-Kolman and later slung a Gaylord II after a Takemoto-half. He also was the only gymnast to really stick his dismount, so his 7.9 D-score helped him to a 16.533 and the Olympic gold. Hambuchen, of course, congratulated him immediately.
2008 silver medalist Jonathan Horton followed, but the medals were decided. He hit well, but his 6.8 D-score couldn't compete. Korea's Kim Jihoon ended the event uneventfully with a 15.133, and the celebration continued for the Flying Dutchman on the sidelines.