Team USA did exactly what everyone expected them to do yesterday. They dominated. Not a single miss. Lots of teams fell victim to the beam, but not the US. They scored 10 points ahead of second place China. These girls are just amazing.
Gabby Douglas was solid on all events. She went out of bounds on floor, but improved her back tuck connection after her first pass. Her bars were excellent and and good enough to qualify third into bar finals. She stayed on beam, and had a small step on her dismount. She tied exactly with Aly on beam with a 14.833, but they both got bumped out of beam finals due to the two per country rule. Poor thing, she also got bumped out of floor finals due to the two per country rule. It takes a lot of guts to come back four years later after winning the All-Around. I give her so much credit for that, because she had everything to lose, but did it anyway. Like her or not, everyone can respect her response to not making AA finals.
Laurie Hernandez wowed as expected on all of her events. She gets every tenth out of her double twisting Yurchenko and her beam was rock solid. She qualified second into beam finals after Simone Biles with a 15.366. She too got bumped out of floor finals due to the two per country rule.
Madison Kocian did her job. She did a beautiful bar routine qualifying first into bars finals with a 15.866.
Aly Raisman just gets better and better. She nailed everything on floor. Her first pass is really long so I hold my breath hoping she doesn't go out of bounds, but she stayed in. Bars is her weak event, but she got through it fine with her form as good as I've seen it. I screamed when she bent at the waist on her side somi on beam, but she saved it and then stuck her dismount. She came to Rio to win. Four years ago she lost out on the AA bronze due to a tie breaker, and she's never quite gotten over it. She was determined to get her second chance, and she got it. It is so impressive that she is as good as if not better than she was in 2012. She made floor finals, but got bumped out of beam due to that pesky two per country rule.
Simone Biles. What is there to say about her? She's awesome. She qualified first into event finals on Vault, Beam, and Floor. She got a 16.050 average on vault. She is the only gymnast in the entire competition to score a 16 + on anything. She had a tiny tiny little hiccup on bars, but no problem because she could fall and still be ahead of everyone else. I can't wait for her to finally get that Gold medal in the All-Around.
So here's the deal. When you look at raw numbers Gabby shouldn't have been selected to compete All-Around in team qualifications. This isn't meant to be a knock on Gabby. She is an amazing beautiful solid gymnast, and she hit for team USA but based on sheer numbers others are stronger. Depending on your perspective, maybe that's how it should be. Maybe being Olympic champion earns her that benefit of the doubt and the right to have those opportunities over other gymnasts. For those who don't see it that way, it isn't fair and other athletes who had better numbers should have been given the chance. I think that's what a lot of the negativity surrounding Gabby was about. Not that she isn't good enough or worthy to be on the team, but that others were too and perhaps more so. According to Marta, there were other things to consider besides All-Around. Like bars.
A year ago at World Championships it was Maggie Nichols who got the Olympic Champion bump, and this year, it was Laurie Hernandez. Maggie sat out bars in team qualifications and then came back during team finals to do All-Around posting a higher all-around total than Gabby did in qualifications. This year, Laurie's scores in team qualifications were higher than Gabby on every event with the exception of bars, which she did not compete. I venture to guess that the only event Gabby will compete in team finals is bars. They only need three gymnasts on each event and her teammates are stronger than her on everything but bars. If that is indeed the case, it circles right back around to the idea that Laurie should have done All-Around ahead of Gabby.
Laurie most definitely would have given Aly a run for her money to qualify for All-Around, but in the end Gabby was chosen for the opportunity, and Aly delivered on every event to beat her out for that second spot. Team USA went 1-3 (Simone, Aly, Gabby) in the All-Around, and they could have gone 1-4 had Laurie done all around also. It is so crazy that the 3rd best does not get to advance. Four years ago Jordan Wieber was odd man out, and this year it's Gabby. Team USA is so dominant that everyone on the team could be in the top 10, and all-around finals would look like a USA national championships but they can't have that. Aly has managed to find herself on the right side of that two per country rule each time, but she has gotten screwed on other technicalities. I get why the two per country rule exists, but I'm not a fan because ultimately the final 24 women who qualify are not truly the best in the world. That rule bumped everyone on Team USA except Simone and Madison out of an event final. Gabby was the biggest victim of the two per country rule out of everyone getting booted out of All-Around, Beam and Floor.
Another interesting story from team qualifications is Kylie Dickson from the United States, I mean Belarus. She wasn't strong enough to qualify for the US National team so she took her talents elsewhere and competed for a country that she has absolutely no connection to. She's never been, she doesn't speak the language, and she has no relatives there, but she applied for citizenship making her eligible to compete for that country. I don't blame her for wanting to be an Olympian. She wanted the opportunity and she got it, but at what cost? Her skill level is closer to NCAA which is level 10 and she didn't perform very well. She had big breaks on everything. I didn't see her beam. It was just her and a Belorussian coach she probably just met. I don't know, it just seems like a very odd Olympic experience. Belarus has a weak gymnastics program, but it seems like there should have been one girl as good as if not better than Kylie who could have been given the chance. She vaulted a full twisting yurchenko, and her last pass on floor was a layout full.
1. United States
4. Great Britain
All-around Finals: Biles, Raisman
Individual event finals
Uneven bars: Kocian, Douglas
Balance beam: Biles, Hernandez
Floor exercise: Biles, Raisman
I can't write about everything or else this post would be way too long so if you are interested, all the gymnastics news is here at NBC Olympics.
Edited to add USA line-ups announced for Team Finals: