Step one: Gabby Douglas wins spot in alltoaround event
Step one: Gabby Douglas wins spot in alltoaround event

© July 30, 2012

From wire reports

LONDON

For months, the women's gymnastics all-around gold medal buildup had centered around Jordyn Wieber and Virginia Beach's Gabby Douglas.

"Yeah, everybody was talking about me and her - the showdown," Douglas said. Now, Douglas admitted, she doesn't know what she's going to say when she sees Wieber again.

"We're still working on that," Douglas said.

That's because in the qualifying round Sunday, Wieber simply could not deliver. She did not have major mistakes, but was not as sharp as usual. Douglas and Aly Raisman grabbed the two U.S. spots for Thursday's all-around competition.

The result was devastating for Wieber, the reigning world champion who was long considered one of the favorites in the sport's glamour event because of her mental toughness and ability to knock out solid routines. She left the arena in tears without speaking to the media.

Going into qualifying, Wieber had lost an all-around title only twice - both to fellow Americans - since the 2008 season.

"It was hard because, of course, I wanted that spot," Wieber said in a statement. "But I also wanted Aly to do her best for the team."

Raisman's score of 15.325 on the floor exercise gave her a total of 60.391, slipping past Douglas for the top performance by an American and making best-friend Wieber the odd girl out.

The result sent shockwaves through the O2 Arena and the U.S. team, and also left Raisman in tears.

"It's really hard; I don't even know what to say to her because it's something that you dream of your whole life, so I feel bad," Raisman said. "I know how much she wanted it."

Raisman was viewed as a gymnast whose style is perfect for team competition, but not always designed to stand out.

Wieber's a champion. Douglas is a natural who is perhaps the most talented gymnast of her generation.

The only meets Raisman won over the past three years were ones Douglas and Wieber either skipped or used as tune-ups.

"I was OK with being under the radar because I just felt more calm going into this," Raisman said. "I didn't feel the pressure. I just wanted to do it more for myself and my coaches because we've been working so hard together. I really felt real confident that I could get my goal."

Through two rotations, it didn't look like Raisman was in the middle of the "meet of her life," as U.S. assistant coach John Geddert put it. Her vault was the lowest of the four Americans. Her uneven bars score too.

Raisman found her footing on the balance beam with a 15.1. Still, it looked as if she would be out of the all-around mix until Douglas and Wieber faltered on floor, both taking steps out of bounds.

When Raisman's floor score flashed on the scoreboard, it meant that she had leapt over both Wieber and Douglas.

After all the teams had competed, Wieber's disappointment was complete. Raisman's all-around score was the second highest of the day, bettered only by Russia's Viktoria Komova (60.632). Douglas was third (60.265) and Wieber fourth (60.032).

Fifty-six other gymnasts, in other words, finished behind Wieber. But she won't be one of the 24 competing for the all-around gold.

Bela Karolyi, U.S. coach Martha Karolyi's husband and the coach of the last American team to win an Olympic gold medal 16 years ago, said Wieber was cheated out of a spot in the all-around, calling it "a lineup mistake" by the personal coaches.

He complained that Wieber - not Raisman - should have gone last on the floor exercise because judges often save their highest score for the final gymnast. Now, he said, he is nervous about how Wieber's showing will affect the chances of the U.S. team, which finished first in qualifying, at winning the gold on Tuesday.

"There are two people over there and both deserve to be there by performance," he said. "But the stronghold, the one that was always the anchor of the team, I'm not sure how she's going to respond.

"I hope she's going to be great and that her composure will be there. But we are human beings, and you never know."

The Associated Press, Fort Worth Star-Telegram and New York Times contributed to this report.

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