Aly Raisman Emerges from Jordyn Wieber's U.S. Gymnastics Shadow

Jake AdamsContributor IIJuly 29, 2012

Aly Raisman stole the show in the all-around qualifier
Aly Raisman stole the show in the all-around qualifierKevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

Aly Raisman was the women's gymnastics team captain heading into the London Games—the elder statesman (by their standards) and steady-as-she-goes performer. Nothing more, nothing less.

Jordyn Wieber was the lock to medal in the women's all-around, a near guarantee for gold in London even with teammate Gabby Douglas in the rear-view mirror.

No more.

Raisman stole the show in the all-around qualifier, outperforming her star-studded teammates with an all-around score of 60.391 in Sunday's action. Gabby Douglas finished second with 60.265 and Wieber posted a 60.032, good enough for third in Team USA's rotation.

But the Americans can only send two gymnasts to the all-around, which means Wieber's run for individual Olympic gold ended before it really even began.

And that leaves Raisman as the new upstart.

Raisman's role as team captain was meant to be the solid veteran. Day in, day out her scores are the same. There's nothing flashy about her routines (although she does the Amanar vault, the toughest in gymnastics) or her personality (like Douglas).

The team coordinator, Martha Karolyi, liked her because she was steady. Raisman doesn't fade or crumple under pressure.

She was good for a 15.8 on the vault (fourth best on the team), 14.199 on the uneven bars, 15.1 on the beam and 15.325 on the floor exercise in the qualifier. 

None of that leaps off the page, even though she was first overall in floor after her rotation. But her main purpose was to be a team leader, not necessarily in points.

"She's emerged as a very solid component and backbone of this group of girls," USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny told FOX Sports.

In the gym, Raisman always worked on being a consistently solid competitor in all four events. Her goal was to be one of the three scores to count for Team USA in every event. But there was never much noise about being in the running for all-around glory.

That's because Wieber was too busy winning every all-around gold under the sun the past two years. Douglas was way too busy stealing Americans' hearts with her contagious smile and high-flying routines.

That left Raisman—under the radar and simply earning praise from coaches for her consistency, but out of the national consciousnesses as a whole. Now, she'll get to prove to the world that sometimes slow-and-steady does in fact win the race, that the tortoise beats the hare.