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Sports

Extra spark leads to gold medal

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 11:12 PM
LONDON -

Aly Raisman finished the Olympics in style.

The U.S. captain matched Gabby Douglas in gold medals, winning the title on floor exercise Tuesday. Add in the bronze on balance beam from earlier in the day, and she becomes the most decorated of the Fierce Five.

"It definitely went better than I thought it would," Raisman said.

Good thing Raisman did so well because the rest of the Americans came up empty-handed. Douglas had another rough day, finishing seventh on balance beam after a fall. World champion Jordyn Wieber, voted most likely to leave the Olympics with the biggest haul, was seventh on floor and finished without any individual medals.

Danell Leyva and Jonathan Horton were fifth and sixth, respectively, on high bar, leaving the U.S. men with only Leyva's all-around bronze.

"I'm so happy, going home with two Olympic gold medals and a couple of titles under my belt," Douglas said. "I'm so happy for Aly, she deserves to be up on that podium."

Raisman may not have Douglas' bubbly personality or Wieber's résumé, but she is prized for her steadiness, and that consistency paid off big in London.

Energized by her surprise bronze on beam, Raisman's floor routine had an extra spark. Her tumbling passes were some of the most difficult, and she got such great height on them you could have parked a double-decker bus beneath her. Her landings were not only secure, one was so powerful it practically shook the floor.

Coach Mihai Brestyan was hopping up and down and pumping his fist as she finished, and even Raisman was impressed with herself, mouthing "wow" after she saluted the judges. When her score, a 15.6, was posted, teammate McKayla Maroney yelled "whoa!" so loudly from the stands it could be heard across the arena.

"I felt like I had nothing to lose," Raisman said. "It was going to be my last memory for London, so I just wanted to make it count and enjoy it."

Five gymnasts followed her, but none came close. When reigning Olympic champion Sandra Izbasa landed her final tumbling run on her head, Raisman let herself exhale. And smile.

It was the first Olympic gold on floor for a U.S. woman.

"It was definitely the best floor routine that I've ever done," Raisman said. "To have it be at the Olympic Games, in the finals, is just really amazing and just a dream come true. That's what you work for your whole life."

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