U.S. gymnast Alexandra Raisman performs on the uneven bars Sunday. (Gregory Bull / Associated…)
LONDON -- As a team, the United States women's gymnasts are well ahead of the field so far after three of five qualifying subdivisions Saturday. That isn't a surprise. The mighty Chinese, the well-respected Russians and the onrushing Romanians are still to compete in the women's qualification event.
But a major upset has already happened. Defending world champion Jordyn Wieber, expected to battle her American teammate Gabrielle Douglas for the Olympic all-around gold medal, won't have that chance.
Making uncharacteristic bobbles on balance beam and taking a big step off the floor exercise mat caused Wieber to finish third on her team in the all-around scoring. Douglas from Virginia Beach and always consistent but never spectacular Alexandra Raisman from Needham, Mass., were the two top overall scorers for the U.S. Wieber was third.
While the top 24 in the overall finish qualify for all-around, no more than two members per team can qualify.
"It hurts my heart," said Bela Karolyi, whose wife, Martha, is the U.S. team coordinator. "She has wanted this so much."
Douglas, who also went out of bounds on her floor exercise, the last of four rotations for the U.S., finished with 60.265 points, second best to Raisman, 18, who had 60.391 points. Wieber's total was 60.032.
Wieber was in tears as she fled through the mixed zone without stopping to speak to journalists. In a quote released through USA Gymnastics, Wieber said, "It is a bit of a disappointment. It had always been a dream of mine to compete in the all-around final of the Olympics but I'm proud of Aly and Gabby and happy that they reached the all-around and that I was able to help the team get to the finals."
Wieber, from DeWitt, Mich., conceded it was difficult to watch Raisman complete her floor exercise, the last routine scheduled for the U.S. Raisman needed at least a 15.200 to move ahead of Wieber and she was the only of the four Americans who competed on that apparatus to not step out of bounds. When her score of 15.325 was posted, Raisman was crying tears of joy and Wieber tears of disappointment.
Bela Karolyi said he has some fears for the U.S. team, which must help Wieber regroup before Tuesday's team finals. "Yes, that's a concern," Karolyi said. "The team needs Jordyn."
Douglas shrugged her shoulders and said she didn't have a good answer about what kind of pep talk she could give Wieber before the team finals. "I'm still working on that, yeah," she said.
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