What an Exciting End!

4:18 PM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

Aly Raisman hugs coach, Mihai Brestyan

My oh my! The Olympics certainly had its highs and lows but this post will be mostly about the highs. Day 3 proved to be an exciting event finals, especially the second half of events with men's high bar and women's floor exercise. My feed kept freezing for women's BB, so I've chosen not to talk about it in detail here. This post will focus on the last 2 events that concluded our 2012 Olympic Artistic Gymnastics competition.

Men's HB
High bar proved to be a really exciting finals. All 3 medalists from the 2008 High Bar Finals were present today. Each performance seemed to outdue the previous one. I don't understand much of men's high bar but the final was absolutely riveting.

The high bar routines were just exclamation point on top of exclamation point. One high flying skill after another! There were no falls in the high bar final and that, in itself, is amazing. Zou Kai was up first and posted a 16.366 with an astronomical 7.9 D-score. Fabian Hambuchen of Germany was up next. What he didn't have in difficulty, he had in exectuion. Commentators love pointing out Leyva's originality on HB but, in my eyes, Hambuchen has a certain finesse that none of the other athletes possesed. So, even though he had a lower D-score, Hambuchen was able to pass Zou. Then, Epke Zonderland was up. I had heard about his three release moves but didn't process how amazing it was until I saw that final. I stared at my computer in amazement as I counted "1... 2... THREE!!!!" My jaw dropped but then I had to scream in excitement as Epke stuck his dismount. To imagine that Zonderland almost didn't get this Olympic spot! There was some amazing gymnastics in that high bar final!

GOLD: Epke Zonderland (NED)- 16.53
SILVER: Fabian Hambuchen (GER)- 16.4
BRONZE: Zou Kai (CHN)- 16.366

4. Zhang Chenglong (CHN)- 16.266
5. Danell Leyva (USA)- 15.833
6. Jonathan Horton (USA)- 15.466
7. Emin Garibov (RUS)- 15.333
8. Kim Jihoon (KOR)- 15.133

Epke Zonderland (NED) hugs Fabian Hambuchen (GER)

Women's FX
FX final proved to be it's own rollercoaster. Aly Raisman was up early and was able to maintain her lead. She scored a massive 15.6 (6.5/9.1). Aly opened with her signature double Arabian and finally connected it to the punch layout. She didn't do the punch layout in team finals or in the all around and it may have cost her the all around bronze medal. From then on, Aly hit all her passes. She nearly stuck her triple twist, the only movement was to bring her heels together. Aly also nailed her double pike to split jump dismount. There was a controlled landing on the double pike, good rebound and height on the jump, and control throughout the move. Ponor had a lovely routine! Like Aly, the performance seemed to be amplified after the tumultous beam final where Ponor lost the tie break for bronze to Raisman. Ponor's leaps were exquisite. Her most noticeable error, as per usual, was her triple twist and a step back on her quad turn. Other than that, Catalina Ponor definitely hit an amazing routine. Aliya Mustafina of Russia was up and would tie Vanessa Ferrari but win the tie break on execution. Although her floor routine didn't have the same drama as her 2010 routine, Mustafina performed well enough to win the bronze medal.

I'm thrilled for the medalists. Bronze medalist Aliya Mustafina tore her ACL 18 months ago. Her bars prowess was to be expected from a leg injury but to medal in such a deep floor final shows the true fighter in Aliya Mustafina. Her twisting form leaves something to be desired but you have to commend an athlete who was able to come back and compete on all 4 events after such a devastating injury. Aliya is now the most decorated female gymnast of the games and has recieved a medal in every event she entered - silver in the team final, bronze in the all around final, gold on uneven bars, and bronze on floor exercise.

Catalina Ponor is the 2004 gold medalist on beam and floor. She retired after those Olympics and just came back in early 2011. After missing out on a beam medal earlier, Ponor earned a silver on floor. Time must be taken to acknowledge that such a great gymnast earned a medal at the age of xx. Catalina's comeback in 2011, in my opinion, helped save Romanian gymnastics. Although Romania did not medal at 2011 Worlds, Catalina served as the experienced leader for the younger gymnasts. When you watch her interact with her teammates, she's just as likely to be playing role of 2nd mom, 3rd coach as well as formidable teammate. I'm glad that Catalina was able to have a successful comeback and finish her 2nd Olympics, 8 years after the first one, on such a positive note.

Aly Raisman has been third in the US for most of the year. Many started to ignore her as we focused on the Jordyn Wieber-Gabby Douglas duel. However, Aly was no athlete to be ignored. She is the US Champion on both balance beam and floor exercise and has been the rock for Team USA for 2 years now. Today was the day to show that all her hard work paid off on her two best events and she did. Gold medalist Aly Raisman has been labelled as "always the bridesmaid, never the bride." Aly was definitely the bride today and she didn't even have to wear the white leo!

GOLD: Aly Raisman (USA)- 15.6 (6.5/9.1)
SILVER: Catalina Ponor (ROU)- 15.2 (6.2/9.0)
BRONZE: Aliya Mustafina (RUS)- 14.9 (5.9/9.0)

4. Vanessa Ferrari (ITA)- 14.9 (6.2/8.7)
5. Lauren Mitchell (AUS)- 14.833 (6.4/8.433)
6. Ksenia Afanasyeva (RUS)- 14.566 (6.1/8.666)
7. Jordyn Wieber (USA)- 14.5 (6.1/8.5)
8. Sandra Izbasa (ROU)- 13.333 (5.6/8.033)

Congratulations to all the athletes that competed in Artistic Gymnastics this Olympic cycle :)