Aly Raisman has a chance to win gold in the women’s gymnastics all-around final, following her surprising victory over team-mate Jordyn Wieber, who is the world all-around champion.
Even Raisman herself was surprised that she qualified. Yahoo! Sports reports that, when Mihai Brestyan, Raisman’s coach, broke the news to the 18-year-old gymnast, she responded:
“Really? Who told you? Where does it say that?”
When speaking with reporters later, however, Raisman was all smiles, after one incredibly steady floor routine during Olympic qualifying on Sunday gave her a total score of 60.391, allowing her to slip past Douglas to the top performance by an American, and in the process knocking out best friend Wieber. U.S. coach Martha Karolyi stated, according to Yahoo! Sports, that:
“Aly’s success today just proves that hard work pays off. She’s one of the most serious and hardest-working girls in training. So finally it came true, and she was able to perform at the (highest) level.”
So, why couldn’t Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, and Jordyn Wieber compete in the all-around final? The Boston Herald notes that the Olympics gymnastics have a two gymnasts per country rule for the individual all-around finals, so only the top two gymnasts from the U.S. can compete, even if their scores are all in the top 24.
For months it has been predicted that Douglas and Wieber would be set to compete in the all-around finals, with the two leading ladies of the U.S. gymnastics team appearing on the covers of Time and US Weekly, respectively. And when Sports Illustrated featured the entire team, it was Douglas and Wieber in the middle, with Raisman’s seemingly “thrilled to be here” attitude.
Despite the fact that Raisman has three world championship medals, she has spent most of her career as an afterthought, despite being voted team captain, because of her age and veteran status in the gymnastics field. Mihai Brestayn, Raisman’s coach, talked about how difficult it was for Raisman to experience a lack of attention, despite her success. Brestayn stated:
“It bothers you sometimes. I tried to avoid that. I tried to protect her. But they have feelings like everybody else.”
But Raisman insists she doesn’t mind not being in the spotlight, especially because Wieber’s a champion and Douglas is a natural gymnast, and is considered the most talented gymnast of her generation. Raisman stated:
“I was OK with being under the radar because I just felt more calm going into this. 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.”
Are you excited to watch Aly Raisman compete in the women’s all-around final on Thursday?
Check out Aly Raisman’s floor routine in the 2012 Olympic Trials below: