Simone the queen finally, took her rightful place among gymnastics royalty. Those of us who follow gymnastics have been waiting for this day since she won her first World Championship AA Gold medal in 2013. She hit all of her events in typical dynamic Simone fashion and when she finished she was Olympic All Around champion. Simone is usually so stoic, but when her floor score was announced and her ranking finalized she broke down in tears. The Gold really was hers for the taking. The other gymnasts already knew they were essentially competing for silver. Everyone expected her to win. After floor everyone knew she had won, she knew she had won, but it wasn't until that moment when it became real.
Aly is such a team player that she stuck every vault so far, but couldn't come up with that kind of landing for herself. She took a hop on her Amanar, but because it is one of the hardest vaults in the competition she was solid in second place behind Simone after the first rotation. I got really worried for her after she struggled through bars. She didn't hit all of her handstands, her form wasn't as clean as it's been, and she didn't stick the landing like she did in qualifications. She'd dropped to fourth and really needed a solid score on the scariest event there is to stay near the top. Beam. She didn't stick her landing, but she was solid and all that stood between her and the podium after that was floor, her best event. The thing about Aly is that you can see the tension and desire in her face and her body language before she starts an event. You can feel how badly she wants it. She doesn't have that walk the park I got this look that Simone has. She looks scared, so you think, oh my gosh is she going to be able to do this? But once she hits the apparatus she is aggressive and solid. She knows how to turn it on. She hit everything on floor, like usual and her face flooded with relief and tears before she even finished saluting the judges. Odd as it may sound I was more emotional over Aly's silver than I was about Simone's Gold, because for Aly it wasn't a sure thing and she was seeking redemption. Four years ago she got bumped from the bronze by Aliya Mustafina with a tie breaker. She had to get back in shape. She had to battle Simone and all the young whipper snappers to make the team. She had to prove she was strong enough for All Around. She had to beat out reigning Olympic Champ Gabby Douglas to make All-Around finals, and then she had to beat Aliya Mustifana and every other gymnast who has been training their whole lives for this to make the podium. She didn't have her best day ever. It was a battle from start to finish, that she finally won. Victory could not be sweeter as it was her turn to give Aliya a bump placing ahead of her. What she's accomplished is amazing, and how crazy is it to see how close she got to winning the whole thing at her second Olympics. I am so impressed.
Third place went to Aliya Mustafina, by the skin of her teeth. This poor girl has had so many injuries since 2012 and still managed to carry Russian gymnastics on her back. She had a solid Vault and Bars landing in first place ahead of Simone Biles after two rotations, but beam was her undoing. She missed an entire acro series and ended up in the 13.866. Her score was actually lower than when she fell in qualifications. Her difficulty on floor is not super high, but her execution and elegance were enough to offset that, allowing her scrape her way onto the podium.
The heart breaking 4th place spot went to Chunsong Sang from China. For her to make the podium, she needs others to miss because no matter how well she does on the other three events her all around total takes a huge hit because she only vaults a full twisting Yurchenko. She was so close this time, missing it by only .116 of a point.
The sweetest moment of all, was just after Simone hopped up on the podium as Olympic champion. She waved and smiled while the crowd applauded, and then beckoned her teammate Aly to join her and share that moment with her. That is just the kind of person that Simone is, and if the roles were reversed Aly would have done the same. Those are the kind of teammates they are. I was in tears. Obviously.
It was the second 1-2 USA Olympic All Around sweep in history. Nastia Liukin and Sean Johnson went 1-2 in 2008. There are many countries represented, and yet only three countries have managed to crack the gymnastics podium so far. USA, Russia, and China. All five team USA members qualified to event finals. I think this is a first for any team, ever, so there is more to come from the Final Five and three more days of gymnastics left for the other countries to bring home some medal.
Aly & Simone post AA Interview
1. Biles USA 62.198
2. Raisman USA 60.098
3. Mustafina RUS 58.665
4. Shang CHN 58.549
5. Black CAN 58.298
6. Wang CHN 58.032
7. Lopez VEN 57.966
8. Teramoto JPN 57.965
9. Thorsdottir NED 57.632
10. Steingruber SUI 57.565