U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team 2012: Jordyn Wieber's Greatest Test Lies Ahead

Avi Wolfman-ArentCorrespondent IIJuly 29, 2012

SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 01:  Jordyn Wieber gets ready to compete on the beam during day 4 of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team Trials at HP Pavilion on July 1, 2012 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Jordyn Wieber's greatest asset has never been a skill or specialty.

She doesn't have a world-famous vault like McKayla Maroney or go by a world-famous nickname like Gabby "The Flying Squirrel" Douglas.

No, what separates Wieber from other elite female gymnasts, apart from her musculature, is her mind.

Even in a sport that requires uncommon, almost robotic poise from its adolescent combatants, Wieber's composure has always been a cut above.

Watch her compete and you'll see: Jordyn Wieber doesn’t act like the other gymnasts.

She only glad-hands when absolutely necessary, and even then with relatively little zeal. Her teammates, her coach, the crowd—at times it’s as if they don’t exist. She is an island, her face forever dressed in a thin-lipped stare that ranges from stoic to serene.

Jordyn Wieber doesn't focus. She is focus.

And if she survives the next 48 hours, that will be the reason why.

It will be because Wieber, more than any other athlete in her sport, is hardwired to compete.

It will be because she is uniquely designed to digest the greatest setback in her athletic career—a stunning failure to qualify for the individual all-around final—and emerge two days later as an emotional blank slate

Or at least Team USA better hope she is.

Because regardless of what the scorecards said Sunday, Wieber is still one of the team's top two gymnasts.

More important, she's among its most reliable. Even on her off days, like Sunday, she's still competent enough to field competitive scores on all four apparatuses.

Fans can count on Wieber. Coaches can count Wieber. Teammates can count on Wieber.

Even in heartbreak, Wieber remains the central figure in Team USA’s quest to win its first Olympic title since 1996.

No, Jordyn Wieber won’t get to fulfill what once seemed like her destiny. She won’t win the Olympic individual all-around title, and she almost certainly won’t ride the wave of popular acclaim that turns teenage tumbles into marketing titans.

She will, however, get a final chance to show the world what makes her so special.

If the past is any indication, she’ll step into North Greenwich Arena for Tuesday night's team final with an unmistakable sense of resolve.

She will hit routine after routine after routine.

She will perform better than any other gymnast could given the circumstances.

And in the end, although the medal count might not reflect it, she will do something only Jordyn Wieber can do.