Bloomberg News

Raisman, Wieber Aim to End U.S. Gymnastics Team’s Gold Drought

July 31, 2012

World champion Jordyn Wieber can’t win the Olympic individual gymnastics event after being outscored by her roommate, Alexandra Raisman. Now they’ll work together as the U.S. tries for its first team gold since 1996.

“I feel really bad knowing how much she wanted it,” Raisman said after beating Wieber, 17. “I had no idea that I was in the position to outscore her. I was completely focusing on my exercises and not on the scores.”

The 18-year-old from Boston qualified first for the U.S. on July 29. She’ll be joined by 16-year-old Gabrielle Douglas, whose 60.265 beat Michigan-born Wieber’s total of 60.032. Wieber’s next chance for a medal is in today’s team event.

The U.S., which also includes Kyla Ross, 15, and McKayla Maroney, 16, is chasing a first gold medal in the team event since the so-called “Magnificent Seven” won in Atlanta 16 years ago. Since then the women have won silver at Beijing and Athens.

The quintet qualified with a score of 181.863. That beat Russia’s 180.429 and China’s total of 176.637. Those are among the U.S.’s main rivals, according to Nastia Liukin, a gold- medalist in Beijing four years ago.

“Team USA has a good chance but Russia, Romania, China, they’re all kind of in the mix,” the 22-year-old Texan said in an interview. “It’ll all come down to team finals. It all comes down to consistency and who’s on that night.”

Liukin, who is also in London for the games, has been giving the women’s team a boost by texting them messages of support, according to Wieber. Liukin knows the feeling of missing out on the Olympics after she failed to qualify in the trials for London.

Britain, Japan, Italy and Canada are the remaining teams in the final, which begins at 4:30 p.m. local time at London’s North Greenwich Arena.

Top Qualifier

Russia’s Victoria Komova scored 60.632 in the qualifying event, the highest of any gymnast’s individual performance, while her teammate Aliya Mustafina was fifth overall. Between the two Russians was the U.S. trio of Raisman, Douglas and Wieber.

The U.S. is best placed to win its first team gold on foreign soil, according to Nadia Comaneci, the Romanian gymnast who scored seven perfect 10s on her way to three gold medals in at the 1976 Montreal games.

“There’s always four countries for three medals,” said the nine-time Olympic medalist. “The U.S. are very good at this particular time. They have a great chance to be the favorites in the women’s competition. Romania is doing very well. Russia is going to be there on podium and China.”

The U.S. is the 1-3 favorite for the gold medal in the team event, meaning that a winning $3 bet would return $1 plus the original wager. Russia is 7-2 and Romania is 7-1, according to U.K. bookmaker William Hill.

“Every team is beatable,” said British gymnast Beth Tweddle, who scored the highest on the uneven bars during qualifying. “You do have to have a little bit of luck. I’m sure China and Russia will be pushing.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Spillane at the North Greenwich Arena on at cspillane3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at at celser@bloomberg.net.


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